Limerick clinician says doctors too ready to use addictive drugs for pain 

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Professor Dominic Harmon, Pain Management Consultant with the UL Hospitals Group.

A SENIOR Limerick clinician has warned that doctors are too quick to prescribe potentially addictive drugs when it comes to pain management.

Professor Dominic Harmon, Consultant in Pain Management with the UL Hospitals Group has said that there is an “international opioid crisis” and medically prescribed drugs are a contributing factor.

Professor Harmon was speaking in an open statement to the media when he said that the one in 10 Irish people who suffer from chronic pain face a big impact on their lives if that pain is poorly managed.

“Pain is a natural part of life, coming to us all at different stages of our lives, most commonly after injuries, cancer, and surgeries. It is also associated with medical conditions and normal experiences such as childbirth and the ageing process,” the Professor said.

“In 2007, the relief of pain was deemed a human right. But this has created multiple problems for society, not least the effects of the international opioid crisis.

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“Amid the myths arising from the right to adequate pain relief, anti-inflammatories such as Difene got undeserved bad press, and we were led to believe that opioids were safe. There needs to be good health professional knowledge in how to use analgesics appropriately.

“Finding the correct source and mechanism of pain allows for appropriate treatments without the need for the ‘plaster’ effect of opioids. Opioids have a role but only with correct diagnosis and appropriate use via well-trained healthcare providers.”

Professor Harmon said that in the Mid West, the dedicated Pain Management Centre in Croom Orthopaedic seeks to treat patients with a more holistic approach.

He said that while physical pain alone can cause distress, there are “multiple other impacts, including physical impacts, with loss of function; psychological impacts, with shame, distress and anger; and social impacts, with reduced participation, lack of self-esteem and loss of sense of identity.