The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Food & Health

November 7, 2013

The case for medicine flexibility

DEAR DR. ROACH: I have gone to the veterans hospital for my medical needs for the past 25 years. I have had four major back operations and a total knee replacement; I also have peripheral neuropathy. They put me on hydrocodone/acetaminophen and gabapentin for the pain and neuropathy. These two combined have helped me tremendously for the pain that I have had constantly for the past 20 years. Now they are going to take away the pain medication because they say they will prescribe it only to people who have chronic pain from cancer. They are going to give me something called Baclofen, a muscle relaxer. Is it a narcotic?

If that doesn’t work, they will give me something else. I told them I do not want to be a guinea pig. Why change something that has worked for my pain for many years. They tell me that pain meds do not cure pain, so how do people with constant pain survive without some type of pain medicine? — L.P.

ANSWER: I have written before about the concerns of using narcotics (opiates is a better word for medications related to opium — such as morphine, oxycodone or hydrocodone) for chronic noncancer pain. However, your situation explains clearly how inflexible rules don’t make sense. Some people with chronic pain from arthritis, spine problems or other causes do not do well on opiates. Their pain isn’t well-treated, and they require higher and higher doses, with side effects ranging from constipation to confusion. It’s because of this that many guidelines now recommend against treating noncancer pain with opiates. However, guidelines are to help show what is good for most people. They aren’t meant to force your doctor into a certain course of action.

In your case, it sounds like the opiates have been working well. Changing to Baclofen, a powerful muscle relaxant and not an opiate, may not control the pain and may cause excess sedation. There are many times when it’s appropriate to make a change for someone using chronic opiates, but this isn’t one of them.

Text Only
Food & Health
  • Watermelon Think beyond the slice with refreshing watermelon

    Watermelon is one of those foods you really don’t need to overthink.
    Slice it. Eat it. Spit out the occasional seed. Done.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • Health insurers owe Iowans nearly $1.8M in refunds

    The federal government says insurers owe Iowans nearly $1.8 million in refunds because of a provision in the Affordable Care Act.

    July 24, 2014

  • Agents get subsidized 'Obamacare' using fake IDs WASHINGTON (AP) — Undercover investigators using fake identities were able to secure taxpayer-subsidized health insurance under President Barack Obama’s health care law, congressional investigators said Wednesday.The weak link seemed to be call cente

    July 24, 2014

  • Almost half of America's obese youth don't know they're obese

    The good news is that after decades of furious growth, obesity rates finally seem to be leveling off in the U.S.. The bad news is that America's youth still appear to be dangerously unaware of the problem.

    July 23, 2014

  • Illinois patients to docs: 'What about marijuana?'

    Illinois doctors, nursing homes, hospitals and hospice organizations are ramping up for their role as gatekeepers in the state's new medical marijuana program.

    July 23, 2014

  • Amanda Stecker Herbs make a better way to flavor meals Summer is a season full of fresh herbs. This is the best time of year to take advantage of the fresh herbs in the grocery store. Herbs add a boost of flavor without added sodium and are rich in antioxidants. Herbs are easy to incorporate into everyda

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Genome Genetic mapping triggers new hope on schizophrenia WASHINGTON, D.C. — Scientists have linked more than 100 spots in our DNA to the risk of developing schizophrenia, casting light on the mystery of what makes the disease tick.Such work could eventually point to new treatments, although they are many y

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • An oncologist uses scorpion venom to locate cancer cells

    Olson, a pediatric oncologist and research scientist in Seattle, has developed a compound he calls Tumor Paint. When injected into a cancer patient, it seems to light up all the malignant cells so surgeons can easily locate and excise them.

    July 22, 2014

  • Obamacare hit by ruling, but subsidies to continue

    A federal appeals court delivered a potentially serious setback to President Barack Obama's health care law Tuesday, imperiling billions of dollars in subsidies for many low- and middle-income people who bought policies.

    July 22, 2014

  • Bice Nurses earn Daisy awards

    CLINTON — Two Clinton nurses recently earned Daisy awards.Mercy Medical Center nurses Jodie Atkinson and Kristen Bice earned the awards that is rewarded to extraordinary nurses. Atkinson began her career in nursing at Mercy Medical Center in 1995 on

    July 22, 2014 2 Photos

Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.