Patient Advocate Tells US Senate Committee “Pain Conversation is Long Overdue”

Patient Advocate Tells US Senate Committee “Pain Conversation is Long Overdue”

Cindy Steinberg put a human face on the chronic pain issue for U.S. Senators Tuesday in a meeting of the Senate Committee on Health Education, Labor and Pensions.

Steinberg, the only patient to testify, described her own two-decade battle with chronic pain as “being a prisoner in your own body and being tortured.”

Steinberg, who is the national director of policy and advocacy for the U.S. Pain Foundation pointed that the opioid crisis has “underscored our failure to provide adequate, safe, accessible treatment options for pain relief.”

She also said that “we can and must restore balance to opioid prescribing,” while emphasizing that chronic pain and opioid use disorder are distinct and separate diseases. Many patients use opioids legitimately and safely.

The financial and societal burden of chronic pain is enormous: it costs the United States an estimated $635 billion annually in terms of lost productivity and health care costs. It is the leading cause of long-term disability.

“Steinberg directly challenged the lack of resident expertise on pain management at CDC, suggesting that Congress direct the much better equipped NIH to rewrite the guidelines based on recommendations of the HHS Task Force. This is a recommendation I support,” Richard “Red” Lawhern, Director of Research for the Alliance for the Treatment of Intractable Pain wrote.

He added the hearings today were “marginally positive for people in pain”.

Committee Chair Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee said the “massive effort in reducing the supply of opioids has had the unintended consequence of hurting people who need them.”

Ranking Democratic Senator Patty Murray of Washington said that opioids have been overprescribed and it’s critical that they are marketed, prescribed and used responsibly.

Steinberg stressed that a multimodal, multidisciplinary approach to treatment—that includes both pharmacological and nonpharmacological options—is essential to effective, long- term pain relief. Inadequate insurance coverage, high out-of-pocket costs, and limited availability are significant barriers to effective care.

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Authored by: Ed Coghlan

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Thanks you Cindy!!!


Thank you Cindy, and thank you, Red. I appreciate any effort you put forth for our community. I went to physical therapy for the first time in a long time, got in the pool, and went through a bunch of exercises that involved my neuropathy-wrecked feet. I did damage to them that has lasted a few weeks already, but the best part was when the PT assistants informed me that they would try to re-train my brain to convert pain signals into something tolerable. After listening to that crap for five minutes, I yelled at them to leave the pool area. The physical therapist came back in and just told me to do whatever it is I normally do in a pool. The moral is – if you’re not in pain, you don’t know what the hell you’re talking about. But alas, they keep talking about it. They cut my pain medication back, and then expect me to exercise more somehow. I hate these people. And our government of pure evil. Thanks Patty Murray you dummy-


When will the “opioid crisis” proponents recognize the difference between a drug addict & a pain patient who takes a prescribed opioid as it was written, follows all requirements of the prescribing physician, and keeps in communication with the physician & staff. This issue is a red herring and I’m grateful to all those working on behalf of those of us in continuing, crippling pain.

Maureen M.

Bravo and Thank you Cindy! As well as all who are out there advocating hard to help us!


I’m in so much pain every moment and don’t know how much more I can take and it’s not because I that I’m addicted


I do not know if their has ever been a time when our Nation took pain seriously, but there is a long history of addressing substance abuse since colonial times. Frankly, I do not fully understand how Government and their friends in society can justify their great interest in substance misuse and their longstanding neglect toward the suffering from pain.
It is clear that Congress still doesn’t get it and still would rather say pain is important and hope that will silence incessant chatter or the vague noise of people in pain. But clearly they have made little funding or other resources available to lessen suffering from pain.
Though there are critical studies for disability there is no established critical pain studies to get to the heart of the failed politics, policies, regulations, practices, beliefs, values, programs, morals, etc of pain care. It is time to develop such studies to hopefully transform and empower people in pain – in the name of humanity and civility.
How we treat our must vulnerable reflects on our civility. We know prisoners are treated atrociously and now government wishes to add insult and injury to people in pain and develop false narratives about addiction and “balanced” approaches to care. Oh please- government should have the integrity to come out and say honestly we dont like people in pain- theyre problems and deserve our neglect and mistreatment. But we know they lack integrity, a hear to care and frankly some reason when it comes to addressing the needs of people in pain.
Pain care is a political problem and moral problem- and without a genuine change of heart and morals in government, in the insurance industry, in doctors and other providers- i dont think there will be real progress in pain care anytime soon.
Lets not waste more time and let us get to the heart of the failure in pain care and call for transformation in our autocratic and careless institutions-the sooner the better.


As I’m from Tennessee. I have been in contact with Senator Alexander’s office, and other Representatives, more than once about the plight of us chronic pain patients. Along with others who have no doubt contacted him, maybe he will move in some smart way to help us.


Our government when properly motivated (greed, corruption and direct theft) to break what isn’t broken, create a crisis that doesn’t exist, all to tighten their grip over the American people.

Our country that was conceived in “Freedom” has now fallen victim to the single most addictive substance known to modern science…ABSOLUTE POWER!

This horrific drug that will corrupt 100% of those who fall prey to it’s addictive qualities. In my opinion we do in fact have an epidemic in this country that even surpasses the 1/2 Million people cigarettes takes from us each year, and interestingly enough it’s disease carriers are restricted to those in Congress. This inexcusable and very simply curable epidemic can be irradiated forever if we would only have the courage to take our desperately needed medication that will remove the infestation from our Capital……….Excise the cancerous bums in Washington by giving them their pink slip. Their crisis……Our Cure!

I am a responsible adult that does not require Big Brother to micro manage every single aspect of my life (what’s left of it). They should concentrate on preventing another 2008/2009 economic bailout and leave me and my body to me.

I applaud the efforts made by Cindy Steinberg! Although I have become jaded over the years by the inconceivable cloud of B.S. that the general public has consumed as truth, I still believe when we are going up against pure evil, regardless of the consequence, we must stand up and be counted on the side of “RIGHT & TRUTH”.

I was cut off of opioid analgesics almost 3 months ago. Yes 60mgs of Oxycodone to 0mgs in one second and my walking papers.
Out of my ridiculously already too low to handle my pain prescription of 348 pills,
I still have 187 left. Being a responsible user of opioid pain medication and not having a replacement doctor available, I did the responsible thing…I dropped them from 12 pills to 2 immediately.

If only I were an addict 🙁


Please write to ALL your senators and Reps.
It’s past time they hear something that comes from actual human beings in unrelieved pain or under-prescribed pain. Even the World Health Organization says this opiate policy is “cruel and unusual”.

Nobody who hasn’t experienced living in 24/7 pain can possibly understand the toll it takes nor the stress of living now under, essentially, a war on the sick of America…AND the doctors!

It is far from “freedom” to put a person through all the hoops they want us to jump through now. I simply cannot be at doctor’s office all the time, or running here and there to justify my need for the drugs that have been under-prescribed to me for nearly half my life.
It’s past time for these costly, ginned up drug wars to END.
Good luck to us all

Signe Topai

Thank you! God Bless you! I know it was very hard dealing with your pain, preparing what you were going to say and handling the stress of such a commentment! You are our Wonder Women!


Sorry for the misspelling. Thank-you


I thank C. Steinberg for standing up for responsible people who need pain meds. We definitely not urinals looking to sell our meds. (I Hope) I answered the US pain question it took me an hour. I hope it was received. I have multiple sclerosis and other pain issues so unfortunately I need them to have some sort of life. I am also on SSDI and unable to continue my carrear. Miss it alot. Now I am finding other ways to be creative and useful for my mental health. I try! Thanks, Susan Bowie


It is great to see movement toward improvement of the pain management crisis. It is unfortunate that our collective voice is not louder, but this point should be illustrative in itself. While the big data numbers are large, the actual patient suffers in private quarters, crying out weakly, unable to muster the strength to manage our own lives, much less travel, meet, gather in the great roar that would be heard and perhaps heeded.


Gail Honadle
Correction: Chronic pain is ongoing pain for months or years. ACUTE pain is pain that is horrible but will subside in a period of time: for example pain after surgery is acute.
Someone who suffers from the same pain for a very long period with no end in sight has CHRONIC pain.

I second the motion to put the NIH in charge of research. NIH is a multi-disciplinary group of laboratories, of which CDC is the Infectious Disease unit. It was irresponsible of CDC not to consult with the experts at other units of NIH when it allowed Dr Kolodny to write the CDC Opioid Prescribing Guidelines. One consequence of that misfeasance of duty, is that the Guidelines erroneously state there to be a lack of evidence that opioids remain effective for long term pain control. The pioneering research efforts on the body’s Opioid and Cannabinoid Receptor System, that was done at NIDA, clearly documents that these substances play a continuing role in the lives of normal healthy people.

I think hunk is reasonable rule for Congress to apply, is to require the CDC and all the other entities that are part of NIH, to consult one another before bringing in an outside group like Kolodny’s PROP and allowing it to mislead the agency.

Brett H

While the ball is rolling we must not give up the fight. Some are against treating pain at all based on reasons that are illogical and inhumane. If they want less opioids they need to treat Addiction and stop coddling those people with revolving doors. Dry then out and keep them close, like watching children.
Certain diseases need to genetically monitored and thoughts towards family planning needs to take place. Because bringing life in to face living hell should be avoided even though we are all lucky to be alive.
Physicians need freedom and education to know when to prescribe and when to hold back or tell patients are telling them a story.
Once medicated the 10 versions of the pain chart don’t really apply at all times. But the pain is still there in the background waiting for us. If this doesnt apply to the patient they shouldn’t be on long term opiates.
America is one of the most over worked countries all scrambling for money. Perhaps we should learn by other countries and take more time to relax and support employees while they live their lives instead of always supporting shareholders and ceo pay. Happy and healthy employees make for better workers. It has been a long time since things like this have happened. I would be curious to see the number of people in high stress positions who have to be on Pain management vs those with higher pay and better benefits.
The human body is a complex thing and not any one way of thought will ever be able to help someone in their entirety when they are in pain without more investment in complex computational sciences for life. They whine about the costs but before the stink they made there was virtually no investment or investigation into pain other than the go ahead to treat it.
Like I have said before I would like to see the money trail of Congress, the drug companies, the Rehab centers, the CDC, FDA, insurances, and those involved in the 9O MME charts. It has been ugly.


Gail Honadle

First off the correct term for untreatable by other means is INTRACTABLE PAIN and is a Medical Disease. Chronic is a temporary pain that can be treated by other means and will subside in a few weeks to months. It is Medical Malpractice not to treat an Intractable Pain Patient. Nor is it fair, just or right to deny RESPONSIBLE patients access to the necessary medications that lets them function, and work. Instead of being in a Wheelchair or bedridden unable to even get themselves to the bathroom. INTRACTABLE PAIN CAN KILL. It is not Just, Fair or Ethical to deny a Complex Patient with Intractable Pain medications that work. That Complex patient may need a Seizure, Muscle, Nerve med if they have Fibromyalgia, Gastropresis, but Osteoarthritis drugs destroy Gastro tracts. Thus the only treatment left is a low dose Opioid. It is Unethical to force Steroids, Cortisones, on Degenerative Disc or Osteoporosis patients before they can have Physio for an injury, these drugs are Bone Destruction drugs. Nor should they be given to Glaucoma patients, yet doctors don’t seem to know that small fact. Because they don’t read a Patient’s Medical History. Why is Medicare FORCING FULL KNEE REPLACEMENT on a patient who only needs a PARTIAL Knee? It does more damage, requires professional Rehab, and a stay in a nursing facility to learn to walk with the knee. That Partial Knee doesn’t require those things and is as GOOD as a Full Knee. My husband has 2 Partials. 1 is 8 yrs old, the other 2 yrs old. He was climbing stairs cautiously within 2 days and driving in 3. Physio done at home.

Sandy M.

Ed, I’m watching the last part of CSpan 3 right now of Cindy Steinberg’s presence yesterday testifying to our senators along with the physicians and Mr: Coop. I see Mr. Coop advocating for medical marijuana. Thank you Ms Steinberg for your participation in representing those of us that are unable to get out of bed. I was unaware she was going to be there, but I certainly thank her so much! I’m sure it was not easy for her either. I would love to tell my story, but can hardly get out to go to the Dr.
Sandy MillerS

Thank you so very much Ms. Steinberg and Dr. Lawhern. You’ve definitely gotten the word out on behalf of all of us. Now we can only pray that they have listened and shall act upon your endearing words of truth and wisdom! I’m shocked but pleasantly surprised that Senator Alexander replied in the way he did. I live in the state of Tennessee and have written to Phil Roe imploring him to help us, only to receive a response that he was going full force with the opioid crisis. I know this is far from over but I feel this is a start. I urge everyone to please write to Senator Alexander and tell him your own personal story. In the meantime may God bless you all and send us the miracle we so desperately need.

Gary Raymond

Thank you, Cindy Steinberg. Many people are afraid to come forward because of persecution. This is definitely a civil war of government against its citizens. For people who need opioids, nobody can be trusted. There are so many in power who are ignorant of chronic pain and its effective management. They did not want immigrants to be stereotyped, but this is exactly how everyone who uses opioids are being treated. Legal and illegal users are both considered hopeless criminal addicts – unless they participate in rehabilitation. Rehabilitation cannot stop pain.

Ellen Lenox Smith

Thank you, Cindy, for representing so many pain patients across the country – you were so articulate and passionate. It was an honor to listen to you and watch the impact your words had on the committee.