Shropshire Star

Star comment: People in pain need more practical help beyond pain medicines

We’ve become a nation of pill poppers.

Are we expecting a pill to cure every ailment?

The trouble is that, as medicine advances, we expect there to be a pill to cure every ailment.

That has left doctors faced with patients demanding antibiotics for everything ranging from the common cold to chilblains.

Today researchers cast doubt on the common practice of prescribing anti-depressants for a series of conditions linked to constant pain.

Drugs with long impressive-sounding names – amitriptyline, citalopram, duloxetine etc – are given to people to improve quality of life, pain, sleep and psychological distress, even in the patient is not suffering depression.

It is hard to begrudge someone suffering constant pain a route to more comfort, but researchers from the University of Warwick believe it is wrong to have a blanket approach to patients. Instead, they say, a far better choice of treatment should be offered along with proper dialogue over the possible side-effects.

As research project co-author Dr Christina Abdel Shaheed says: “Some pain medicines may have a role in pain management, but they need to be considered as only part of the solution.”

Other options, such as exercise, physiotherapy, and lifestyle changes may also help.

Of course scientific studies do not practically help those suffering the distress of ongoing pain.

Consultant rheumatologist Dr Benjamin Ellis rightly describes the “scandal” of the current situation in which those in pain are often unable to access physical activity, mental health and employment support they need. They deserve better.

What cost the safety of motorists on our motorways?

You would think National Highways would move heaven and earth to make smart motorways safer.

But today officials admit that they find new safety targets “very challenging”.

That means the average time automatic cameras are are taking to detect stopped vehicles is largely way over the 20 seconds target.

In fact they range from 43-65 seconds – plenty of time for an HGV to crash into the back on an unfortunate motorist.

Smart motorways dominate the West Midlands, with sections on the M6, M5 and M42.

But anyone using the first lane must do so knowing that safety procedures are not necessarily up to scratch.

We can only hope it does not take a fresh tragedy on our motorways to force the hand of those in charge to get it sorted.