Health Advice



Finally, relief for those struggling to obtain effective pain relief

By Michael Roizen, M.D. on

Chronic pain from sickle cell anemia, cancer and during end-stage illnesses often requires strong, potentially addictive pain medication -- and that was something many patients couldn't obtain in the aftermath of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's 2016 opioid guidelines for chronic pain. There have been many stories about pharmacists refusing to fill doctor's opioid prescriptions for terminal patients and doctors who were afraid to offer pain remedies for fear of being labeled as "narcotic pill pushers."

That led to several studies and reports that exposed the overzealous application of the 2016 guidelines. They revealed that inflexibly regarding dosages, hard limits on the amount of medication that could be prescribed, and abrupt tapering off the medications was harming some patients.

The CDC now acknowledges that the clinical application that resulted from the 2016 guidelines was overzealous. So the CDC issued new guidelines for clinicians who prescribe opioids for acute, subacute and chronic pain. They give clinicians and patients flexibility in deciding what pain relief strategy is best and stress the importance of tapering off over time. They also point out that opioids shouldn't be used as first-line or routine therapy for subacute or chronic pain, and non-opioid therapies often are better for many types of acute pain.

Where does this leave you if you're contending with severe acute or chronic pain? With the chance to explore all options -- including effective, non-opioid alternatives -- with your doctor, arrange for management of opioid prescriptions by a pain management specialist, and to receive proper help in stopping them when appropriate. Now that feels better!



Health pioneer Michael Roizen, M.D., is chief wellness officer emeritus at the Cleveland Clinic and author of four No. 1 New York Times bestsellers. His next book is "The Great Age Reboot: Cracking the Longevity Code for a Younger Tomorrow." Do you have a topic Dr. Mike should cover in a future column? If so, please email

(c)2022 Michael Roizen, M.D.

Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

(c) 2022 Michael Roizen, M.D. Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.



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