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Call to tackle chronic pain

Friday September 4th, 2015

European countries need to learn how to uses opioids "safely and effectively" to help tackle a massive problem of under-treatment of chronic pain, a conference heard yesterday.

The plea came at the conference of the European Pain Federation in Vienna, Austria, from the organisation's president elect Professor Bart Morlion, from Belgium.

Opioids are in increasing use - and are prescribed 7.5 times more frequently than 1990.

But Professor Morlion warned that fear of addiction could restrict their use.

He said: "Chronic pain destroys lives and we have few tools at our disposal. Opioids provide important therapeutic options in bringing relief from acute and chronic pain.

"We should not re-stigmatise these analgesics, but instead clarify how than can be used safely and effectively.”

He added: “There are certainly many good reasons for the increase in prescription rates. However, in future more care needs to be taken to ensure that opioids are the right choice for the individual patient,”

The Federation says it will publish the findings of a review of opioids later this year.

It also announced plans for a Europe-wide Pain Diploma, with a curriculum published later this year and the first exams next year. More than 4,000 delegates are attending the conference.

The current president, Dr Chris Wells, warned of the "enormous economic burden" of chronic pain.

The Federation says 20% of European adults suffer from some kind of chronic pain - and 9% experience daily pain.

He said: “More than half of chronic pain patients suffer from the condition for two years or more before they receive adequate treatment. A third of patients get no treatment at all, and around 38 percent say that the treatment received was insufficient.

“We need investment in pain research, pain therapy training and most of all in specialist facilities for chronic pain prevention, treatment and rehabilitation. Less chronic pain, less suffering, greater productivity – we can achieve it, but it won’t come for free.”

Tags: Europe | Pain Relief

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