Opioid crisis could keep chronic pain sufferers from getting med - KMOV.com

Opioid crisis could keep chronic pain sufferers from getting medicine

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KMOV.com -

A 60 Minutes investigation may have brought to light an unintended consequence of the growing concern over the opioid epidemic. The CBS news magazine's story concluded Congress passed legislation that crippled the DEA's ability to fight opioid abuse.

Chronic pain sufferer Carolyn Bailey told News 4 that doctors have become reluctant to prescribe opioid painkillers recently because of concern over overdose deaths.

"This pain could not be more real and my doctors know it but they're so terrified because it's such a big deal in the news and the government's all involved," said Bailey.

Bailey said she suffers from nerve damage caused by diabetes and without an opioid painkiller she lives in constant, crippling pain. But recently her primary care physician and pain management doctor informed her that they'd no longer be prescribing oral medications and she would only get spinal injections for pain. Bailey said the injections don't work. 

Dr. Alexander Garza, medical director for SSM Health acknowledged the natural reaction of physicians to the opioid crisis is to write fewer prescriptions for painkillers. But he said doctors have to be careful not to overreact.

"Somewhere in there has got to be the happy medium where people with legitimate chronic long-term pain do have access to things that help out their pain," said Dr. Garza.

Bailey said without opioid painkillers she and others suffer unnecessarily. 

"There are so many people in so much pain for so many reasons and if there's medicine available why not let them have it," said Bailey.

News 4 reached out to Bailey's primary care doctor to ask him about the pressure on physicians to write fewer prescriptions for painkillers, but he didn't get back to us.

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