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Airing Pain 123: Opioids and Chronic Pain

Rethinking long-term pain management

This edition of Airing Pain has been supported with a grant from Kyowa Kirin donated for this purpose. 

The opioid crisis reached its peak in the United States in 2017, where addiction and overprescription have led to 218,000 deaths from prescription overdoses between the years of 1999 and 2017. The side effects of opioids can affect the day-to-day activities of people managing long-term or chronic pain, yet society as a whole has yet to fully evaluate the relationship between opioids and addiction.  

In this edition of Airing Pain, producer Paul Evans talks to two leading pain specialists. First off, Paul Evans meets with Dr Srinivasa Raja, who discusses opioids effects on the body’s opioid receptors and how the human body processes pain. Dr Cathy Stannard then talks about the increase of opioid prescriptions in the UK and how the opioid crisis in the United Kingdom developed. 

In the second half of the programmePaul speaks with Louise Trewern, a chronic pain patient and patient advocateabout opioids detrimental effect on her quality of life and how she was able to transition towards more effective methods of chronic pain management. 

Finally, Paul sits down with Dr Jim Huddy, a GP in Cornwall, who explains how the medical community is re-evaluating the relationship between opioids and chronic pain. 

Issues covered in this programme include: Cancer, chemotherapy, exercise, fibromyalgia, medication, neuropathic pain, opioids, painkillers, physiotherapy, prescription for pain, psychology, side effects and dosage.


  • Dr Srinivasa Raja, Professor of Anaesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine and Neurology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Maryland, USA  
  • Dr Cathy Stannard, Consultant in Pain Medicine and Pain Transformation Programme Clinical Lead for NHS Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group 
  • Louise Trewern, Vice Chair of the Patient Voice Committee at the British Pain Society 
  • Dr Jim Huddy, Cornwall GP and Clinical Lead for Chronic Pain at NHS Kernow Clinical Commissioning Group. 

More information:

With thanks to:

  • The British Pain Society (BPS), who facilitated the interviews at their Annual Scientific Meeting in 2019 –
  • The International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP)
Rating: 3.00/5. From 2 votes.
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Kirsty Kay-Russell

May I ask please why you didn’t have anyone on the show for whom opiods have been of benefit? This is an incredibly important point to provide both sides of an argument.

Rating: 5.00/5. From 6 votes.
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I have to ask the questions- was this lady’s pain severe?
What was causing her pain? In all the so called ‘evidence’ it states that a minority of patients DO gain pain relief over the said amount. These drugs have not been taken off the market, they are still licensed for use on long term non cancer pain. The pharmaceutical company had to do many more stringent tests/trials than the one that has caused many people to suffer unnecessarily. What happened to patient choice? Surely we are the experts on our own pain levels and what. does/doesn’t work?.

Rating: 4.80/5. From 5 votes.
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