COVID-19 Causing Pain Patients Care Issues

COVID-19 Causing Pain Patients Care Issues

The U.S. Pain Foundation has released the results of a survey of 664 individuals with pain conditions about how COVID-19 has impacted their health. More than three-quarters (77.4%) of respondents indicated they are facing barriers to medical care.

“Individuals with chronic pain are particularly vulnerable right now,” says interim CEO Nicole Hemmenway. “They are at higher risk for serious COVID-19 disease, but they also are dealing with worsening health as a result of appointment cancellations and inconsistent telehealth options.”

Cancellations of in-office appointments, while unavoidable, suggest gaps in care that must be addressed in other ways. One-third (33.7%) of respondents said they rely on appointments that require in-person interaction (such as physical therapy or massage), while 20.5% said they had a surgery or other procedure cancelled as a result of the pandemic.

But while telehealth is possible for many routine visits, a common theme was a lack of clear communication about how it works–and how much it costs. A quarter of respondents (25.3%) said they had not been informed by anyone of their telehealth options. More than half (56.1%) said they did not understand their insurer’s telehealth coverage policies; similarly, 48.0% said they did not understand their provider’s telehealth offerings.

Another concerning finding is that some pain clinics continue to stay open and require in-person appointments. 10.2% of respondents said their clinician refused to fill medications over telehealth, and 13.6% said their appointment can be done over telehealth, but their clinician doesn’t offer it.

“This is problematic given that many people living with chronic pain have comorbidities that put them in a high-risk category,” says Cindy Steinberg, U.S. Pain’s National Director of Policy and Advocacy. “The Drug Enforcement Administration issued an emergency ruling allowing controlled substances to be refilled via telehealth.”

In general, the data suggest not enough is being done to help limit the need to leave home. One-quarter (25.1%) of respondents said despite the special circumstances, their insurer would not cover more than a 30-day supply of medication, and 17.3% said their insurer would not fill a medication early.

Clearly, this data points to ample opportunities for all of us—patient groups, health care providers, insurers, industry stakeholders, and policymakers—to come together to better serve people with pain,” says Hemmenway.

The survey report includes recommendations on steps federal and state officials should take to ensure patients have continued access to care.

Readers of the National Pain Report participated in the survey. We were happy to partner with US Pain to identify and subsequently promote these issues.

To learn about the results and download the full report by clicking here.

U.S. Pain is also running an action campaign to urge policymakers to ensure better access to telehealth. To participate, click here.

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Authored by: Ed Coghlan

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Pain patients are at greater risk from COVID-19 than the general population for many reasons and lack of access to many providers is an additional issue. Because of this I have been posting a series of articles on the Alternative Pain Treatment Directory website over the last two months on self-help strategies for both pain relief and immune support. These articles can be accessed here:

Sara Batteiger

Advanced Pain Management in Milwaukee,WI. is being completely responsive by cancelling all appointments and doing everything by phone or telemedicine. Instructions are clear, insurance coverage the same, and all schedule 2 meds are being called in and filled by my pharmacist. Cant say enough about them. Thank God!!

Marcus Willemszon

I am not sure what world the author of this article lives in, but clearly a lot of misrepresenting is portrayed in this article…#1. You CANNOT get a prescription for a sch. 2 medication over the phone, it must be hand/computer generated and carried to your pharmacy…#2. because of rule #1, your doctor cannot phone in to your pharmacist any sch. 2 medications…PERIOD…no exceptions were made for the corona virus, but exceptions WERE made for sch. 3 thru 5 medications, thru telehealth… if your provider he issues you sch. 2 meds closes their doors, good luck…your down the creek with NO paddle to get back up…and I think I would rather die than go to an ER these days with the indignity of that BS…I can die at home for free…


@Stacy Wagner please go to web site http// along with several sites about DT was my source for DT cause death. No it does not go into health risk factors just heavy drinking alcohol withdrawal. I would think people would investigate on their own if anyone would care to do so. But the fact is even social drinking even to those in the best of health can contribute to causing health issues like high blood pressure or falls and even death. My point of my shout out was government says liquor stores essential during Covid 19 but chronic pain people can’t get pain adequate treatment or after surgery care pain all over so called opiate crisis. When in fact alcohol has been & still does cause death. What purpose is alcohol? And some people can’t just have one drink some are addicted. Why isn’t alcohol controlled just like opiates. Those who buy it should be put on database and photo ID, plus have to see a doctor monthly and urine test. Oh, all because opiates is narcotic. I think alcohol should be classified as a narcotic. That’s my opinion. I am sticking to it.

Stacie Wagner

@Margie, *no one has ever died from DT’s
Yes, many people have died from DT’s because they are a very serious health risk that can cause brain damage, stroke, heart attack and/or death. DT’s are a very dangerous symptom for anyone who is trying to detox. DT’s shouldn’t be downplayed or ignored by anymore.
If anyone has a friend/family member who is withdrawing from alcohol and they are experiencing tremors that are visible or they are having problems focusing, please call a medical professional or 911.

If I miss a pill for any reason I DIE! They just do not care . That is murder just like lowering past what I can do. They go to hell after Jesus deals with them. I am sure they will enjoy getting what they gave us only for eternity.

Thomas Wayne Kidd

Thanks for the report. I am getting ready to go to an appointment today. This is insanity to cause us to have to travel long distances to get pain medications. I won’t be surprised if I am denied treatment soon.


If we wanted beer/alchohol we have it made since government has liquor stores are essential. When alcohol lowers the immune system and doesn’t want people addicted to alcohol to go into withdrawal or have mental health issues if liquor stores were closed. But in fact donations to government officials make liquor stores essential. I wish I could drink alcohol for my pain. It’s okay to be addicted to alcohol since its essential. No one ever die of DT shakes or loss of jobs,homeless or vechicler murder or Chronic DWI. All this is acceptable but overdose of opiates this is the worse issue plaguing U.S. Too many doctors writing opiate scripts, lock them up but keep the liquor stores open to buy all you want no limits or urine test. You may get jailed or ticket but got be cheaper than the urine test or monthly doctor visits and all the out of pocket cost. You can get your liquor at your convenience and not sit there for hours being smart mouth by a N.P. How I wish I could drink.


I just moved from California, where I had a good relationship with my pc doctor, to St Louis Missouri. Trying to find a primary care and pain clinic. The pain clinic said call back in 8-10 weeks, primary care docs not even answering phones. Anybody know some good doctors in or near St Louis?


“their insurer would not cover more than a 30-day supply of medication, and 17.3% said their insurer would not fill a medication early.”
I never even bothered to ask if my insurer would ok an early refill because my pharmacists absolutely refused to consider it for any reason (not even TWO DAYS early). If they were open 24 hours/day & the scrip could be filled at midnight, these people would flat refuse to fill it at 11:55pm. And the thought of even mentioning more than a 30 day supply would make me laugh if I weren’t in so much pain.

The article also failed to point out that many of us are forced to get by with drastically reduced levels of meds, or none at all, & the incredible physiological stresses of un-/under-treated pain makes us that much more susceptible to this virus & everything else that comes down the pike. Immune & all other systems don’t function properly when the body is in constant, agonizing pain. But the grim truth is, this barbaric society doesn’t give a rip about this particular minority & would probably celebrate if we all dropped dead, especially as the years of propaganda have convinced everyone not intimately connected with chronic pain that we are specifically responsible for all drug problems, & that nobody would ever OD again if we did all croak. I fervently wish unending & untreated agony on every one of those who created & bought into the hysteria….Christian charity be damned. I’ll want mercy for them when they start showing mercy for us, but they’re actively trying to weed us out.

Gail Honadle

None of mine have it, you call get a tech or Nurse, or hearing aid wearers this is a problem, same with dentures. They have a hard time comprehending your needs, coming up on 6 month checks. I self quarantined as I’m high risk. I don’t want out in a doctor’s office to pick up the Virus or other germs. My niece who takes PLAQUENIL for LUPUS/SJOGREN’S is reporting shortages. They must have access to their meds too. Open up more Pharmaceutical plans. NO MORE CHINESE GARBAGE. GENERICS HAVE LESS OF THE MAIN MEDICATION, OTC’S ARE WORSE.

Stephen Godfrey

My dr. just called my rx into pharmacy and canceled in office visits