US Pain Foundation Patient Turned Advocate Speaks to Senate

Cindy Steinberg shares little-known facts about opioid users and addiction while providing recommendations to move pain care in the US forward.

In February 2019, Cindy Steinberg
 provided testimony before the Senate HELP Committee as part of a hearing on managing pain. Steinberg, National Director of Policy and Advocacy for the nonprofit US Pain Foundation, spent some of her time speaking from a cot—she suffered a severe back injury years ago when a filing cabinet fell on her at work and has been fighting for those living with chronic pain ever since.

Source: US Pain Foundation

In addition to sharing her personal journey, she recommended the government and healthcare community improve pain care by:

  • promoting individualized, integrative, multimodal care plans
  • breaking down coverage barriers to a full range of non-pharmacological as well as pharmacological treatments
  • investing in vital collection and reporting of epidemiological data on pain.
  • improving public, patient, and provider education about pain management
  • breaking down stigma that creates barriers to proper care.
  • investing in ongoing patient support and teaching of self-management skills for living with a chronic illness and pain
  • increasing research into understanding the basic mechanisms of chronic pain in the human body and the development of novel safe and effective treatments.

Steinberg went on to share two important points not often discussed in the opioid therapy conversation:

  • Demographic research has shown that chronic pain sufferers tend to be largely female and over the age of 40; those with opioid use disorder (ie, addiction) tend to be largely male and under the age of 30. These are two largely separate groups with very little overlap. 
  • Repeated research within the chronic pain population has found the risk of addiction to be small, on average less than 8%; in patients with no history of abuse or addiction, studies have shown the rate of addiction to be between 0.19% to 3.27%.

Her goals, as are those of many Chronic Pain Warriors, are to help policymakers and insurance payors understand the distinctions between opioid addiction and opioid physical dependence, as well as the realities behind the overdose statistics, which are largely based on illegal drugs, not prescribed opioids used by patients living with long-term pain. Read her full testimony and join the conversation on our Facebook page.





Updated on: 09/03/20