Does Chronic Pain Get Worse, Better, or Remain the Same after Stopping Opioids?

Does Chronic Pain Get Worse, Better, or Remain the Same after Stopping Opioids?

By Staff.

Does stopping long-term opioid treatment make chronic, non-cancer pain worse, unchanged or better?  That’s a question researchers at Washington State University set out to study.

The researchers’ goal was to take a first step in understanding how ending long-term opioid therapy affects people with different types of pain. Their hope is to help doctors identify effective treatments other than opioids.

“On average, pain did not become worse among patients in our study a year after discontinuing long-term opioid therapy,” said Sterling McPherson, associate professor and director for biostatistics and clinical trial design at the WSU Elson F. Floyd College of Medicine.

Study Design

McPherson and his team at the Veteran Affairs Portland Health Care System and the Oregon Health & Science University used survey responses from 551 VA patients who had been on long-term opioid therapy for chronic, non-cancer-related pain for at least a year before discontinuing the medication.

Eighty-seven percent of the patients were diagnosed with chronic musculoskeletal pain, 6 percent with neuropathic pain, and 11 percent with headache pain, including migraines.

Participants rated their pain over two years, scoring it on a scale of 0-10 where 0 equals no pain and 10 equals the worst possible pain. The researchers used biostatistical analysis and computer modeling to characterize changes in pain intensity 12 months before the patients ended opioid therapy and the 12 months after.

While patients differed widely in the intensity of pain they experienced before and after stopping opioids their pain did not get worse and remained similar or slightly improved.

“Our results indicate that long term opioid therapy does not effectively manage patient pain intensity any more effectively than not receiving long-term opioid therapy,” McPherson said. “There are a variety of treatments available for the management of chronic pain other than opioids and our hope is that this research will help promote conversations about these alternatives between doctors and their patients.”

Next Steps

McPherson plans to collect additional data and conduct qualitative interviews with patients over the next year to try and determine why some patients experience greater reductions in pain than others after discontinuing long-term opioid therapy

“As part of our study, we grouped our patients into one of four categories based on the amount of pain they reported before and after discontinuing long-term opioid therapy,” McPherson said. “We are now going to try and understand what different mechanisms may be at work for reducing or increasing chronic pain for each of these sub-groups. Our hope is this will lead to being able to target specific sub-populations with different types of treatment for their chronic pain. In addition, we hope to continue to characterize potential adverse effects from being discontinued from long-term opioid therapy.”

McPherson’s study, which appears in the June edition of the journal Pain, is one of the first to investigate what, if any, are the potential adverse effects of discontinuing long term opioid therapy for chronic, non-cancer-related pain.

Authored by: Staff

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Diane Clauson


Joetta Berghman

I suffer chronic pain due to a damaged SI nerve from a fall in 1983. I had 2 back surgeries to correct my damaged spine but there was nothing that could be do for my damage nerve. I was on opioids for 10 or so years before I tried a TENS unit. My pain was so severe I had to wear the TENS on a high setting, if I recall correctly that setting was around 7 or 8. Wearing the TENS was very uncomfortable but I was able to stop taking the opoiods I had been on for such a long time and I did not go through withdrawals. However after wearing the TENS on such a high setting my body began to reject the TENS and I had to stop wearing it.
I then was put back on opioids, which I again have been on for 24 years or so. During these years I also tried other pain relief options including injections, one of which made my pain worse. Many years ago a doctor tried 7 or 8 times to inject the right spot, I was such a fool to ly there and be his guinea pig but the pain I was enduring I was willing to try anything for a little relief.
Now me and the population of chronic pain patients are having to face unbearable suffering because our federal government and their agencies are taking our life saving drug away from us because of drug addicts……how can this be fair to us?
A person that has never endured a long term pain has no idea what we with chronic pain go through. I know first hand chronic pain can cause a person to think of suicide, the thought has crossed my mind. I have nights that the pain wakes me up, I take a pain pill and sit on my back porch until the relief comes. I am on 10mg hydrocodone.
Now at the age of 73 I have been diagnosed with Poly-myalgia Rheumatic another chronic pain issue. I can’t grasp the logic of legislators taking on dicision making that physician are educated and trained to make.
I am involved with several chronic pain groups and it seems as if we are fighting a losing battle. We are looked at and treated as drug addicts. It would help our cause if those in DC had to suffer our pain for one day, their attitudes would change quickly.
Thanks for the time to vent, it doesn’t help my pain but at least someone hears me.

Dennis M lawson

i broke my neck in late 2003 in 3 places since then dotors have tried every and i do mean everything to lower pain levels had 3 neck fusions one repair spine operation,where they drill around nerve in left arm trying to get them to operate without great pain numbness,i went to an head doctor for 13yrs because i was unable to work it helped talking to him but he also gave nerve medication,and i had no trouble with taken theses because i took them as doctor ordered plus he also knew i was a chronic pain patient and took rx pain medicines,but in the end they started treating drug addict at same doctor office and said they would have to stop seeing me,left me to go cold turkey off 3 medications i really needed,now since my last surgery the third neck fusion,i have c3,c4,c5,c6,c7 fused all they will gave me is 10mgs of rx pain medicine every 6 hours,now their are those who would say thats a lot of medicines,but the only time i had true pain relieve was in 2015,and the doctor was gaven me 30mgs of rx pain medicine every 8hrs i felt half my pain that was very great gone it was like i was a new man i was able to do things i hadn’t been able too since 2003,but at the end of that year the opioid crisis’s kick in they kept lowering my rx pain medicine even when the pain was greater and they change the medicines to one that had little to no effect on my pain,now i not only live in an pain hell but my family member’s who knew i was in great pain,knew i was having operation,after operation,trying to found help with a pain so great my mind and body couldn’t take it,they now are calling me an drug addict for taken medicine that are called and have been called pain medicines for years,i have gotten to the point they know the truth and sill call me a drug addict when i’m not am a person in so great pain i need rx pain medicine to fuction at all,it like call someone with an dieing illness a faker,their pain nazi’s,they need to repent for the bible says person who torture,and kill other person are going to hell,i didn’t say that GOD did and that who’s going to judge them.

Bill in Montana

I was put on oxycodone after a neurosurgeon referred me to them. As part of my workup I was given an MRI. The MRI and other diagnostics showed my spine beginning to fuse. I was informed by one of his PAs that more fusion would eliminate some of the identified pain points. After 9 years of continuous oral pain meds my pain has receeded about 75%. I was cut off my pain meds by the clinic’s controlled substances manager on a technicality a couple years ago and have taken no pain meds in that time. I was in pronounced pain for a few months after a medically assisted detox but after my body got used to being drug free my pain stopped. I craved the feeling I got off the oxycodone for a few months but my mental cravings for the drug have subsided as well.


Anyone who looks at the two sources that performed this study can see that before even reading these inaccurate survey results will know they are tainted! First, The Veterans Portland Healthcare System has failed miserably in providing any consideration to the quality of life for Veterans suffering from long term pain as a result of combat related injuries and diseases contracted from exposures (ie; Agent Orange, PTSD..) when deployed, or from natural causes. I have personally interviewed over 700 veterans, ages ranging from 21 - 85 years of age, and 583 of those receiving long term opoid therapy stated their pain, up to 24 months of being tapered or abruptly removed, said their pain is worse, constant and at times un-bearable, and as a result, experience increased stress, anxiety, depression and an extreme lack of will to “Live-on”. These veterans from the Korean, Viet-Nam and Gulf wars all told me that they Felt the quality of medical care received from the Administration has plummeted since 2016.
Any Chronic Pain patient who has received treatment at the Portland OHSU facility, will admit their philosophy regarding long term opoid therapy has completely inverted to the opposite direction of what it once was. Portland, Salem and Eugene are all cities now saturated with the new wave movement progenitered by the CDC. And Finally, I have worked at home in the past, getting paid for conducting surveys online - something i no longer do, so without fear of reprisal or of loosing my employment status with these firms conducting the surveys, I will boldly say that they ‘selectively’ and discriminately profile their applicants to perform their surveys to fit their “Progressive Mold’ with the objectives of deriving the results “they’ want to extract. This sounds like trumped up baloney….but IT IS TRUE! and as a former participant- you’ll just have to take my word on it.

Bob Willis

If the Gov’t truly wanted to help our country from the addictions that plague us all then why don’t they make the alcoholics taper off the alcohol . There will be a lot more loved ones lost tonight from alcohol related deaths than from opiates this next month.

Wendie c brock

Sorry, this study results had to be falsified. I was bedridden with pain and tried every possible alternative, before being given medication. One day after taking the medication I was able to stand, walk and participate in the outside world again.

sandy auriene sullivan

Since my forced taper started in 2015 [year I went paralyzed and ended up with CRPS…had problems prior but…now CRPS same year the tapering started too!] I have went from a healthy looking chubby 180lbs to….drum roll please… I’ve lost almost 100 pounds!

I am 95lbs with no reason besides uncontrolled pain and nerve damage. Im dying due to lack of pain management…. real pain management and I have legal MMJ access too. Concentrate helps a LOT with pain and I do not feel high from it when eaten. Only if vaped but it’s not enough to cover all pain.

It’s not helping eat as much as it should. Im wasting away….95lbs. Im not tall but last time I was 95lbs I was 9 years old!

sandy auriene sullivan

Wonder how their quality of life was and their ability to *COPE* with their pain level.

Im not shocked that pain remains the same…. but what is left out [besides that the worst cases in pain have musculoskeletal AND neuropathic pain and headaches including migraines; not one or the other only?!]

If I had just one issue in pain I could probably cope without opiates TOO!

The narrative being pushed is dangerous; the study results they are seeking to find are then conveniently found; this is a highly flawed! HIGHLY. To push the narrative no one needs pain relief. NO ONE.

The narrative is…. you’re going to be in pain no matter what so you do not need to EASE how you cope with it. You do not need ‘help’ for pain because it’s going to be there regardless?!

Well ya… it is but again our quality of LIFE differs greatly with and without medications that help us live a more normal life in that brutal pain; regardless of how bad it is on or off opiates - how one copes with it is the KEY.


I hope American taxpayers were NOT the one’s paying for that study!!! What a load of [edit]!!! My guess would be MOST of those VA patients studied turned to marijuana, medical or recreational for pain relief. I know I sure would IF it were legal in my state!!

Signe Topai

Stupid ! This study says”. their pain did not get worse and remained similar or slightly improved , ” when stopping opiates. The study dismisses why we got on pain meds in the first place!!!! Who wants to remain the same when 7days a week, 24 hours a day , 365 days a year a you experience daily 8+ pain!!! I did not believe from experience that stopping opiates slightly improved patients pain. When this happened to me I had to be rushed to hospital , my blood pressure was very high and shock started to set in. Such a disservice to our vets. Just another lame ploy to keep medications out of the hands of our vets and other chronic pain patients.

Jeff Tate

What was the pain score and standard deviation before and after these 12 months? How did you quantify the pain, self reported or some actual measure of pain? Prove your claims, otherwise this is sheer subjective opinion, not scientifically valid medical research. Articles like this result in harm to 100 million chronic pain victims. How dare you postulate such nonsense as this. Why not claim antibiotics leads to bacterial infections, that influenza vaccinations cause viral infections, that anti-hypertensives elevate blood pressure, and that Elvis is alive and well?

CRPS patient.

Rubbish. As everyone in the medical field knows, studies are only as reliable as their design. I notice that ZERO patients had CRPS. Crickets when it comes to CRPS from these anti-opiate nuts.

Like anything, when used properly, opiates can increase the quality of life for people with CP, CRPS in particular. NSAIDs and Neurontin just won’t cut it, they’d know that IF they suffered from this disease themselves.

Kathy fry

As a chronic pain sufferer and I find it difficult to enjoy life or even perform basic chores without medication ,I have tried many different methods to help relieve my pain and opioid are the best causing less side effects and providing the relief I need ,I doubt like being treatedlike a criminal just because I don’t want to live in pain ,if I was a heroin addict I would be able to get all the pain meds I need but I don’t want to do illegal drugs and become hooked on heroin ,so I suffer the indignities of pain management ,what is wrong with this picture ,obey the law ,get treated like a criminal ,break the law and get treated like a human being

Darlene Haight

Another study planned to debunk the efficacy of opioids on chronic pain patients. Who cares whether we hurt “more” after we stop use? We should we have to stop using, as long as it works?!!! Why alternative treatments if it’s doing us good weekend though harm?! Once the CDC come clean with the real statistics about opioid addcition and death (deaths occur mostly from illegal drugs), hopefully the scale of societal judgement will swing back to accepting use of opioids by chronic pain sufferers, while additional pain management treatments are studied and developed. Not either/or.

Cynthia B

Can I just say, JUNK SCIENCE! I have been force tapering from high dose opioid therapy for 11yrs. due to Mixed Connective Tissue Disease, Lupus, Fibromyalgia and DDD (Degenerative Disc Disease). Since March 2018, my FORCE Taper has caused a number of NEW PROBLEMS FOR ME. My chronic pain has changed. My overall skin pain has lifted “some”, let’s say on scale of 1-10 it was 8, now, tapered by 1/2 of my HIGH DOSE opioid Medications since March 2018. Now for new pain, since off 1/2 of opioid treatment my neuropathy in my feet has gone from a 3 to 9. My lower back pain from DDD has gone from 5 to 8. My scalp pain and headaches have gone from 6 to 8. My large muscle pain has gone from 5 to 8. I think I should have been in that same study as I have been on a High Dose opioid therapy for over 11yrs. I would also like to add that since my force taper in March 2018, I have lost over 20lbs, over 3/4 of my muscle mass, my blood pressure has gone from 72/120 to 98/1??, (I do not want to fabricate these numbers, I think I’ll leave that to the CDC, lawmakers and other liars in our government) sorry, I can only remember the top number on BP, but it is significantly higher than when on high dose opioid therapy. I can also say that before March I was able to get out of bed to care for myself and now that’s GONE! It’s a good day for me now when I can brush my teeth! Did I say, I despise liars and government fabricators yet?! The above statement is my own I don’t trust anyone anymore but I guess that matters NOT as the way I feel NOW, I doubt I’ll be here on this Earth much longer!


Does anyone thinks these studies may be more about getting more business for special interest groups ie therapist psyco so called drs.and treatment so called suboxone pushers illegal spinal injection so called specialist it’s not about pain control or over stipulated addiction let true addicts go to to suboxone treatment but no they want people who are legeit to more$$$ for them we”re being used as sheeple as always it doesn’t matter to the benefactors what they do to us pain is much worse without proper meds and no one can tell me different don’t be sheeple a bow to their lying corrupt [edit]

old goat

Its a shame you can’t get access to the actual study and have to settle for what we are told. I do not know about anyone else, but it took significantly longer than a year to find the proper drug and dose to best treat my chronic pain. I can’t imagine any of these doctors participating in this study putting a patient on a long acting opioid protocol that quickly. If they were talking about a constant escalation of a drug like Norco, drugs that are not for chronic pain but acute episodes, you have to figure from the initial visit, at least one month for evaluation and a second month of continued evaluation at the new higher dose, another month for escalation to a stronger drug such as percocet, followed by another month of evaluation, and additional months for dose adjustment and evaluation. Anyone having been treated with opioids knows these adjustments do not happen as quickly a monthly in real life, but my point is that in one year it would be exceptionally difficult if not impossible to evaluate and stabilize a patient on these drugs. So is it any surprise, given no choice in the continuation of treatment that these patient would find very little difference in poor pain management when compared to none? Without patient stabilization on an EFFECTIVE dose and drug all they would notice is poorly treated pain and increasing side effects. This study was designed to give them the results they wanted…

Alan Edwards

Another group obsessed with the most efficacious molecules God made besides benzodiazepines. This line of thinking has been around long before this Washington study. It is called withdrawal pain! And now lack of withdrawal pain! Or no pain, you were just intoxicated by opioids. Look withdrawal pain up on a Canadian website called
“”. Wake up. This study is another biased look or opinion that has missed infinite variabilties in patients and pretends opiates do nothing or make pain better by stopping. Again, cancer pain is separated from arthritis pain. Arthritis pain can be much worse and chronic As can neuropathic pain. Any healthcare provider who espouses withdrawal pain or what this article claims is wrong and proper titration has not been followed. If their pain improved, they did not have intractable pain disease.Tylenol, neurontin and Celebrex can cause the same if this study is to be believed. Celebrex is a useless inhibitor for back pain. Consumer reports gives drug efficacy ratings and associated studies second to none. More politically incorrect propaganda from the state of J. Ballantyne.
And pets are no longer being treated for pain in Virginia with any effectiveness in response to someone below. Only V.I.P.s, police, pastors, reverends, doctors etc. are still getting opioids and massage for the most part and it will continue. Many things very relative are not being reported by NPR.
Intractable pain stops only at death or until opioids, methylprednisolone, cryotherapy or a burn are used for a precise nerve block. Weak interventions allow pain to intensify and spread along with the disease. Compare these expensive pain studies to reality and they usually crumble. Once called a control study and stamped, it will be used against cancer and intractable pain patients by our inept, brain dead providers and wallet mongers. Opioids are under attack but so are we as truly suffering people. Don’t be fooled by a study that is blatantly biased.


How convenient and self-serving that outcome appears to be given the current witch hunt in progress. Cant help but wonder what the “patients” were using instead of those opioids to achieve this outcome. Please dont say “meditation” else you will cause country-wide vomiting to commence… Funny, too, how few (none) of the frequent responders to Pain blogs and articles claim they are “better off” after their only quality of life inducing meds are withheld from them cold turkey (due to said witch hunt)!!

Mar Brock

This is not based in the world of science but more a Psychology pain study a large per cent in any study Ive seen prefer the placebo to the non opiate p[ain meds none of which work ,its the degree of pain do you have CRPS or Cancer ,pain controlled for 40 years then suddenly cut off ,I see no good to this study but its by kids in School in Washington so I hope they will learn Mar


Doc anonymous please tell me you still practice so I can be grateful someone is getting treatment!


Doc anonymous. YES


Ridiculous, if meds were controlling my pain it’s obviously worse when they were removed.

Mavis Johnson

Just another example of what passes for “Science” nowadays. This so called “Study” has numerous flaws, including expectation bias. The subjects were also selected out of thousands of potential subjects for a reason. These types of “Studies” based on slef reporting questionnaires are also flawed. It is very likely these subjects were chosen in the first place, because they were good candidates for opiate cessation. They left out many conditions for a reason. This nonsense was quickly spread through mass media, along with articles about opiates making pain worse. They have added to the misinformation and hysteria that is so bad that even cancer patients are being denied pain management.

The VA used to do credible research, since they allowed Industry insiders and pseudo science to run a well manged PR Camping that is no more. It is also very likely that these subjects were all put on alternative medication like Anti Psychotics, which the VA continued to prescribe for everything from lack of sleep to hearing loss. This was after these drugs were proven to increase heart attacks. The VA chose to ignore Chronic Pain, and re-frame it as a mental health disorder. They had a lot of help from PR firms, Psychologists and Pharma Insiders. The fact that they released a “Study” like this is irresponsible.


Didn’t reasearch tell us that margarine was better than real butter and that eating eggs was like committing suicide? One study is worth basicaly nothing. Experience is a better guide. I had my meds cut by half and I have lost 30% of my capacity to function that I had and quality of life is down by 35%. That is significant.


These 551 patients are supposed to be a fair representation of the millions who suffer with chronic pain.
After years of not being able to participate in much that life offered-due to the pain being sooo bad, my Dr put me on oxcytcontine and I experienced relief. No, my pain did not magically disappear but it was controlled enough that most of the time I could live-i got to experience life. After a few years I decided to and was able to lose over 125 lbs in 2 years. I was able to change to healthy eating because I could stand in the kitchen and prepare my meals. I was able to walk everyday-some days 5 or 6 miles, ride a bike and use an elliptical. It was amazing. Then the government said no and my Dr who was involved in a federal program could no longer prescribe me the one pain medicine that worked. We had tried everything before and that’s where we ended up again. Now we are on my 2nd pain pump as the first one did not adhere, etc…i pray this will work but so far it’s just constant pain. And it keeps getting worse. The stress of trying to live a wonderful life I had to give up-makes my pain worse. I’m back to broken sleep if any. Exhaustion makes my pain worse. Why doesn’t someone do a test of real Americans in real chronic pain who now have nothing.
I tried every electric device, massage, acupuncture, hot, cold, and so many medications and nothing worked. I’m not asking to be pain free because that’s not realistic but if I could go back to having my pain reduced-from 8, 9 & 10-to around 3, 4 & 5 regularly, I would be able to live again! I could shop for myself, I could cook and take care of my dishes. I could craft with my daughter. Now I’m back to not really living a life. I don’t understand how the ‘scientists & drs’ can say what they do because I know for a fact it was the only help I’ve had in years, the ONLY medicine that worked. I’m trying to stay positive and look forward to tomorrow but everyday as the pain grows and the forecast gets dimmer, I do wonder what’s to become of my life.


G. L. Hunt

I believe this man, McPherson, is lying. He is most likely a VA anti-opioid activist. And I don’t see anything related to the longterm effects of opioids, which is stated at the end of this summary article as being one of the things researched. Where is that information? I will go to the original article. But no, I don’t believe a word out of these Activists who are causing so much suffering for chronic pain patients. Including Millions of veterans, committing suicide….many with exotic IED injuries, can’t get pain meds from the VA. Outrageous what they have been doing, unopposed, and continue to do.


None of those patients were given a diagnosis that is associated with a specific pain it does not say how long how much how much more functional they became after initially on a stable dose
If the patients is not getting a functional change that is different
I as many people who write on the National Pain report am so much more functional on opiates I have dystonia and when I have tried to go any lower I am bed ridden I am on less than 5 years ago
And having breakthrough pain medicine is critical ; for example I had a fever low grade last night and that makes my dystonia hurt so much more like bones being broken If I did not have my home regimen I would be in ER were most doctors have not seen dystonia and mine does respond
to levodopa so well initially it was thought to be Parkinson’s disease
But it turned out to be A variant of dopamine responsive dystonia and the doctors warned me I would have trouble with Sinemet
Requiring or Miralax causing migraines and they were so right so I have stroke symptoms when migraines or dystonia is bad so I can not safely take tryptans so I use opiates for prevention and treatment and I also get dystonia med iv infusions now two times a week
I was using standard draw up IM Benadryl esp because it helps nausea and vomiting but also rigidity in my legs. Ironically it was not the opiates I use and lock up for safety but the Benadryl helped so much it eventually despite appropriate technique and rotating sites caused small abscess fevers and the calcified tissue won’t heal so I have had two and now they anticipate two more surgeries one being skin graft. So if I had pushed for more opiod for pain vs I thought harmless Benadryl IM ( highly skilled RN just can not work due to disability from this illness

Point I am trying to make is every patient is different any medication can cause unexpected side effects and because a population of VA patients supposedly are the same once off does not mean another patient will be
Any illness any treatment must be individualized and sometimes stopping opiates May work but it is very very dangerous territory to
assume every patient responds the same.

scott michaels

IT GETS WORSE. AS WEVE AGED OVER THW YWARS OUR CONDITIONS ONLY WORSENED. TAKING AWAY THE MEDICINE THAT TOOK THAT PAIN AWAY AND ASKING THIS QUESTION IS JUST AN INSULT TO OUR INTELLEGANCE. After 10 yrs at a high dose now at half that dose. My pain is brutal at times. Because i cant just lay in bed i must be active. I just spent three weeks in bed because i decided to do some laundry.


I know physical therapy is a great pain reliever. And unlike medications, it can help your body heal and the pain leaves. Bad news, Medicare barely covers it. I had back surgery and they paid for a whopping 18 visits. And I had to relearn how to walk! Shameful.

Acupuncture seems like it would be great for my migraines. Medicare won’t pay.

Chiropractor may be useful with my back and neck. Medicare won’t pay.

Lidoderm patches used to work but now the copay is $50/box, and I need 3 patches. I fear as you take away our pain control, only rich people can get help.

I know therapeutic massage works great for pain. Medicare won’t cover it, but I am very fortunate that my son is a licensed therapist and I get deep tissue, trigger point, and neuro-muscular massage.

Heated pools work very well for pain. I have no access to a warm water pool. Or even a hot tub.

I wish I could take Celebrex but Vioxx put me in congestive heart failure so my doctors all say no.

I wish I could take an Excedrin for my migraines or NSAIDs for my pain, but my kidney failure says no more. Thus, doctors said you can take opiates. Now the CDC says no more opiates, you HAVE TO LIVE IN PAIN.

CDC has pressured my doctors at the University of California Medical Center so much that I’ve had 3 major surgeries (2 liver surgeries and 1 back surgery). Pain control is up to my primary care doctor, not the surgeon. So, NO PAIN CONTROL post-surgery. I lost so much weight and was so weak I could barely walk. I later heard people thought I was dying. (Yes, from severe, uncontrolled surgery pain).

My primary care doctor stopped my migraine medication (for my thyroid eye disease, I’ve had decompression surgery on both eyes, and now need muscle surgery). I get severe eye/tension/headaches but my doctor thinks the DEA might come after her for prescribing Fioricet.

I asked my pain clinic doctor (who gives me steroid injections) if I could get my Fioricet back, without the caffeine. He said, that would work well, but we better not.

Doctors in the United States DO NOT CARE that their patients have pain. Most of us that were on opiates lived active lives because our pain was controlled. NO, pain pills don’t cure pain, the idea is that people should be able to live their lives without unnecessary suffering. Even dogs get pain control.

Unless you are rich, we are throw away people now. People are starting to take their own lives. No one cares.


I hope the study tracks patients over a long period of time. Alot of people I know have issues that their pain will b bearable 4 awhile then their issue acts up 10 fold. Alot of MDs were increasing doses thru say fentanyl patches but the patients pain problem would act up for a couple weeks but their fentanyl was increased when the patient would have been better regulating their pain with a lower dose of oxycodone when needed. I feel alot of MDs need 2 really get 2 know their paients & their personalities. Doctors don’t seem to want to spend the time 2 know their patients. This whole issue has become so out of control for patients who r suffering. If doctors invest interest in their patients personally this would resolve issues as long as the government would let the doctors do their job everyone would b better off. Shouldn’t to theses studies been done years ago????? The MDs plans that we’re put in place r suddenly changing due to new government standards. Where we’re these studies & standard’s b 4??????

Julie Hicks

Some of it actually gets better immediately. Most does not. After awhile it starts to build and build again, depending on physical demands/obligations. If one has nerve damage in the spine itself, along with continued compression on nerves there, it simply gets worse and worse. Neuropathy (sp?) within the spine itself is the absolutely worst pain to try to treat. Even if the original damage has managed to heal somewhat, regardless of passing years, if continual compression is still present, damage is still underway. It’s a no win situation; speaking from 25 years experience.

Nick G

This study is not really accurate first your study subjects are all VA people that have been on opioid therapy for one years time, that’s not what you state as “ chronic long term “ opioid therapy. What if say 40% of your study subjects (patients) were only on a opioid for no longer than one year. I believe you patients who have been on opioid therapy for min 3-5 years. People with CRPD or failed spinal fusion patients, rheumatoid arthritis people with REAL Chronic Intractable Pain not migraine sufferers taking Norco for 12 month…. This is a very squid study it’s a small percentage of the millions of people in this country that truly battle some serious conditions and ailments, with that being said your final results or findings truly are not accurate simply because you left out a huge proportion of the chronic pain community. 551 VA patients receiving opioid therapy for one year before taking them off does NOT paint the picture of the REALITY pertaining to the chronic pain community as a whole, it’s really just a cherry picked group of only VA patients combined with poor case study guidelines to support the title of this post! McPherson your findings are from the survey responses of 551 VA patients. Certainly doesn’t speak for the entire chronic pain community.

Molly Canfield

Ok BUT the researchers found that many remained at “similar or slightly better” levels of pain after discontinuing long term opioid therapy. Without my meds, my pain is on average an 8. But after days and days of going without my meds it climbs to 9 and then to a point where anxiety, hopelessness set in as well as significantly decreased quality of life. (and, yes, Ive been on 2 antidepressants for many years).
This looks like another way to take away those meds that are working for many of us. Let them try to walk a mile in our shoes.

Veronica Clark

I say baloney. I’ve been in chronic pain due to various conditions since 1995. Pain medications helped me a lot. Without them, the pain interfered with movement way too much. I’ve been off of opioids for 2 years now, and can definitely say it has not improved my life at all. It’s made it much worse. I cannot even take a shower without pain issues. It’s become impossible to do almost anything. And, no, I will not do another pain clinic. The last one wanted me on meth, which I refused. Injections do nothing. Physical therapy only creates more pain and more problems. So, I’m stuck. Stuck in this never ending life of pain.

Christiana Hargis

Of course it increases pain! I’m a 3 on the painscale with opioids. A 9 without. As opioid therapy is taken away, so is my quality of life. I take them as prescribed. Why is this happening? Millions of chronic pain patients are suffering. I’ve had 5 back surgeries incl. Fusion, Injections. No relief. The opioid therapy has given me my life back. It is now taken away!


I’ve said it before but here it is again…CPP’s are the single cohort who are trackable because of having been legally PRESCIBED OPIATE ANALGESICS.
So we are not only being dragged down by the TRUE OPIATE ABUSERS but are becoming the study group of which OPIATE abuse can be gaged.
I need, as do millions of others, opiate analgesics for chronic pain issues. Period.
This is tedious and redundant.

Mickie Williams

I had decided that i could stop taking pain meds.Suddenly stopping landed me in hospital with siezure and other problems but i eventually went home.As time passed i became so inactive because pain was just too much.I no longer had people over didnt make plans or go places because the pain kept me unable to keep up.i found it to painful to take care of normal everyday activities including fixing food and eating it.Friends and family begged me to quit being stubborn go back on my medicine and live.The doctor that lived near me asked me to please get help i was committing a sloe form of suicide.Everyone was sure they would be attending my funerral.My mental health caretakers tried to convince me to do what improves my life do not listen to people that accused me of being a drug addict.i wouldnt b able to put them down if i was an addict.after one year of shear misery n dying by inches daily i decide not to care what others thought of me.I wanted to live my life not die.i began treatment again.i have my limitations but i have a full and good life.Now i am again going to be forced to go thru that again its not living miserably its dying.I am going to have the joy of constant pain that robs my life due to illegal drug users and bussines people decsions over my life.non licensed nonmedical people interfering in my doctor patient relationship..The vunerable suffer and the illegal drug abusers keep doing thier drugs

Sharon C.

I have had CRPS since 2015. Although I have tried various other therapies, such as multiple nerve blocks, Ketamine infusions, physical therapy (made me worse), art therapy, and others. Only opioids work to make my pain go from an 8 to a 1 or 2. Does anyone believe me when I say there is no high for me with opioids? I am not addicted to opioids. There have been times when my CRPS takes a little time off from torturing me. I went without opioids for almost a month. Took myself off pills, with zero consequences. When the pain came back, I went back on opioids. Opioids do relieve pain, contrary to what this supposed study shows.

phyllis marhoffer

After 9 years I stopped pain pills on my own, pain is increasing

Traci Gresham

I STRONGLY disagree. I’ve been w/out my pain meds at times & its awful. Can’t function bc of the pain. Its what gets me through each day & be able to “live” a little. Whoever, needs to do a WAAAAY bigger study bc it does not represent the majority. If only people let knew….

Swami Prem Kavyo

I discontinued opioid medication in Jan. 2017 due to my doctor stopping my prescription. I had been using medical marijuana in conjunction with my prescription medications since 12/09 and had been steadily reducing opioid medication amounts during this time. I was able to control my neuropathic pain from failed back surgery syndrome using cannabis as my main pain medication. I do still take gabapentin, 800 mg., four times per day, nabumetone 500mg. once per day and tizanidine 2 mg. twice per day.


I have been on Fentanyl for about 11 years now. I must be an exception to the studies findings. Doctors started me at 100mcg of Fentanyl. I asked to be placed on a lower dose at 75mcg. After 4 years I again dropped to 50 then 37.5 then recently to 25. 25 did not help at all and I needed to go back to 37.5. I did not notice a big difference in my pain level when dropping down to 50’s but did suffer from withdrawls. At the 37.5 to 25 patch level I did notice a significant upward spike in my pain levels. At 37.5 I have more bad than good days or you could say I walk everyday as if on a tightrope. A breeze comes up and it’s a bad day. Sure 50mcg would make most of my days pain free but the side effect of daytime sleepiness caused by the higher dose is not worth taking. I truly think that doctors did not really listen to the patient and that it caused many patients to be over prescribed in dosage. I for one wanted quality of life and not be placed in a stupor and not able to participate in life. I do think that when there is pain it should be treated at a lower dose then raise the medication upwards instead of the other way around. I am on my second Spinal Cord Stimulator, 3 failed back surgeries and suffer from Arachnoiditis. Lucky to be alive. It all started with an auto accident.

Samantha Adcock

The “Mean estimated pain at the time of opioid discontinuation was 4.9.”

Which for most people with chronic pain is a “functional” pain level.

The most interesting part of this study was what was carefully NOT stated.

“Pain intensity following discontinuation of LTOT does not, on average, worsen for patients and may slightly improve, particularly for patients with mild-to-moderate pain at the time of discontinuation.”

I’m certain that if they were to provide they data summary for those who were at a SEVERE pain level the reduction of Opoid Therapy would show an the increase in pain levels.


That is Math/study lingo for: They just JUST AS BAD AFTER the study as they did before the study. They needed pain medication to control pain=they still do. ie: On a scale of 1-10 they were at 8. Take away their opioid pain medication and they were hurting at….8.

They don’t mention if the opioid helped them to be a …5. But I would think it lowered their pain some.

This definitely does not prove they don’t need opioids. It proves the opposite.

With those results why do they insist that opioids are not needed?

Kelli Davidson

Just because the pain does not get worse does not mean the pain is NOT PAINFUL!

Wendy R Burnett, OTR,CHT

What were the results of the musculoskeletal vs. the neuropathic pain patients?


Why do thes studies always just focus on veterans? How about normal everyday people who have chronic pain? These studies definitely need to be bigger and include more diverse populations to get somewhat accurate results. I think it’s very irresponsible to publish this, it’s incomplete at best! On a personal level, my opioid regimen allows me to function and decreases my FOREVER chronic pain. Just veterans in this study? There was definitely a outcome you wanted by just using that subgroup.

Kris Aaron

I’m baffled by why anyone would think starting or stopping opioids would affect the reason patients experience chronic pain. When the human body sustains damage that causes nerves to send pain impulses to the brain, opioids can’t heal the injury or make it worse. All they do is soothe pain receptors in the brain.
Pain is the messenger telling us something is wrong. When we can’t heal the injury causing the pain, opioids act to silence the injury’s message. The injury itself has no relation to the opioids.
At least, that’s the way my doctor explained it to me. Perhaps there is some “magic” I’m unaware of involving the concept that “if you can’t feel it then it doesn’t exist”? Or were researchers hoping to find another excuse for doctors to deny opioid relief to patients in pain?
Our culture is obsessed with the issue of addiction at the cost of ignoring the very real suffering of chronic pain patients. But research has proven that less than 1 percent of chronic pain patients using opioids become addicted to them.
Nevertheless, politicians continue to present themselves as valiant soldiers in the nonsensical “war on drugs”, a “war” which is currently being waged against vulnerable pain patients. Opioids are not anyone’s enemy. Illegal drugs and careless consumption of narcotics and alcohol are the real killers, and they’re proving to be an elusive foe beyond the reach of law enforcement.
Unfortunately, research funding is going to meaningless studies like this one when it would be better spent learning if pain patients who receive sufficient opioids to control their pain can regain the ability to function and find employment.