The Puzzle of Pain

Dr. Mary Lynch, like Dr. Webster,  understands that opioids aren’t the first line of treatment. Dr, Lynch only turns to opioids once the level of pain is intolerable, or the quality of life is compromised. In her experience, the chances of a patient developing a long-term addiction to opioids are quite low. She believes that opioids do not create the addict and that the medical use of opioids is not what leads to addiction.

“People don’t want to see the complexity of addiction. Addiction is a complex problem that requires addressing risk factors … It’s easy to fool yourself to think that stricter regulation of doctors prescribing is going to solve the problem. It’s not.”

Dr. Lynch strongly believes that legislation regulating doctors to prescribe fewer opioids will only harm those using opioids appropriately for medical reasons. Those with a legitimate medical need for opioids that are using them appropriately under the care of their physician are getting less access to them as their physicians are frightened to prescribe them. We even have physicians that won’t prescribe opioids at all because they are afraid of having their licenses taken away.

Patients that cannot gain access to effective medications that they have taken in the past are falling into depression and in some cases committing suicide. This has also pushed people to obtain illicit drugs illegally which can easily cause an overdose and in many cases death. Dr. Lynch notes that “when people are pushed to purchase drugs on the street it often results in a lot of collateral damage.”

There is a stigma surrounding the treatment of pain using opioids. This socio-political agenda denies medical evidence which makes it nearly impossible for those in chronic pain to get the treatment they need.

When asked how can we improve the current system her response was two-fold. We need a national pain strategy that will educate healthcare professionals and the general public so that we have a “fleet” of well-educated healthcare professionals. We also need more open access to tertiary pain clinics for more complex, chronic pain.


  1. Cindy Adams on July 13, 2017 at 12:40 am

    I live in Pittburgh PA. I’m a 48 yo F RN who is currently unable to work in any capcity due to the severe chronic pain I live in. I am told I need a shoulder replacement. I have a pinched nerve in my neck that affects both shoulders and arms down to my fingers. I had to cancel the shoulder surgery due to the fact I’m a single mother who can’t afford to be off for God knows how long with out an income. I also ended up losing my insurance and am currently without coverage. This last year I have developed arthritis severely in both knees and shoulders. The pain is so severe at times I’m unable to walk for days. My shoulder freezes and I cannot even put into words the intense pain I feel , the only way im able to describe the severity to anyone is this” Im NOT suicidal, I never would do something like that however the pain is so severe when my shoulder freezes all I can do is pray and beg God to take me” I truly want to die!!! It’s unbearable. I can’t sleep ,eat, lay down, go out of my home, I can’t get myself dressed.
    Over this last year I have not even asked for narcotics. I was able to mange it with Motrin heat meditation ice etc…The last 5 mths it has taken a turn for the worst pain I never could have imagined possible to have. Before losing my ins. The surgeon refused to give me pain meds. His rationale is with the new CDC guidelines I only give post o.o pts narcotics for a few days.
    So what he’s basically telling me is suffer, I could help you but I will instead sit back do nothing and just watch your life crumble to nothing. My 16 yo son gets very depressed seeing the decline with his mom. He at one point after 5 days w my shoulder frozen in April forced me into the car and said mom you can’t go on like this and drove me to the local ED. He was witness to the DR treat me as if I was lying about my pain or i was dru seeking as she offered me a Motrin after sitting there for 4 hrs. She also had access to all of my CTs MRIs etc..proving that my medical problems are real. My son who doesnt have a disrespectgul bone in his body got so angry and upset and told het what a horrible person he thought she was and respectfully how she has no business being a DR if she thinks people should be made to suffer in this day and age
    I may sound like I am rambling I have so much more to say but it all seems so pointless. It’s as if my life is over at 48. I can’t even enjoy my 2 and 3 yo grandkids due to my physical pain. It’s completely robbed me of any normalcy in my life.
    Lastly I can remember I was always taught how important it is that I as a nurse recognize a pts pain as their own. It is what they say it is and we as medical professionals are to treat accordingly and help the pt. It’s sad to say it’s no longer a priority in medicine to take care of a patients pain and by ignoring or minimizing that and leaving them untreated or undertreated we are causing mental and emotional harm to them in the process.
    Giving up in PA

Leave a Comment