By Jeb Bladine • President / Publisher • 

Medical community looks at pain, drugs

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Many Yamhill County medical providers are expected to participate in next week’s pain summit in McMinnville. The focus, as we reported, is on “prescription of opioids for pain stemming from causes other than cancer.”

The event is supported by physician organizations, Yamhill County Public Health, both county hospitals and the Yamhill Coordinated Care Organization. Our story quoted U.S. Food and Drug Administration statistics that encouraged the local program.

“Tragically,” read a statement by Dr. Margaret Hamberg, “the most recent data shows that more than 16,000 lives are lost each year due to opioid-related overdoses. In fact, drug overdose deaths, driven largely by prescription drug overdose deaths, are now the leading cause of injury death in the United States — surpassing motor vehicle crashes.”

Our website story drew a poignant and pointed exchange of comments worth reading by people with personal or family situations involving chronic pain. The story itself included illuminating comments by local clinical psychologist Dr. Kristie Schmidlkofer about treatment and behavioral options for people suffering from chronic pain.

As she said, for many people it’s about finding a way “to live the life they want to live even though the pain is never going to go away.”

All of us understand something about pain, but for most people a variety of physical pains are temporary, treatable or, when chronic, manageable. Other people aren’t so fortunate.

Personally, I’ve lived a typical life filled with paper cuts, stubbed toes, turned ankles and one major bone fracture. However, I have plenty of empathy for people with chronic pain based on three experiences with pinched nerves that lasted up to two months.

As people with nerve problems know, the opioids don’t really take away the pain. Opioid pain pills might mute the feelings, but often that’s not worth the side effects or the well-known potential for developing addictions to the drugs.

While knowing something about the exquisite nature of nerve pain, I don’t know what I would do if one of those conditions became permanent rather than temporary. To that point, one of our online readers commented:

“I have made my own personal choice to use a mix of non-opioid drugs, emotional and spiritual support, and distracting activities to keep sane and functional. This approach has helped me find a workable balance between the benefits and side effects of the drugs, and the level of pain that I can tolerate on a day-to-day level.”

Jeb Bladine can be reached at or 503-687-1223.


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