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Experts and patients meet to tackle Scotland’s chronic pain

The growing use of opioids to treat chronic pain will be one of the major talking points at a University of Dundee conference today.

Some of Scotland’s leading experts in the condition will gather at the West Park Conference Centre for the Scottish Pain Research Community’s (SPaRC) Annual Scientific Meeting.

Opioid use has hit the headlines in recent weeks with soaring numbers of the painkillers – including morphine, tramadol and fentanyl - being prescribed to manage pain, prompting concerns that some patients are becoming addicted.

With the issue firmly in the public eye, SPaRC chair Professor Lesley Colvin, Consultant and Honorary Professor in Pain Medicine at the Universities of Edinburgh and Dundee, said that the use of opioids to manage pain would feature prominently at Friday’s event.

“There will be discussion about the opioid situation and how it has developed in recent years,” she said.

“It is something that is causing major problems in the United States, where it has been called an opioid epidemic. There has been a similar increase in prescribing in the UK. However, the pain community is struggling to assist patients with coming off opioids and that is something that still needs to be examined.”

Among the keynote speakers will be Professor David Williams from the University of Michigan, who is Associate Director of the Chronic Pain and Fatigue Research Center and also President of the American Pain Society.

He will be joined by Professor Andrew Todd, a professor of Neuroscience and an Associate in Life Sciences at the University of Glasgow, and Dr Alan McNair, Senior Research Manager at the Chief Scientist Office.

Professor Colvin added, “Chronic pain is one of the most common conditions worldwide and affects the lives of many people across the country.

“This meeting will bring together renowned experts to bring us up to date with research taking place both here in Scotland and around the world to research the causes of and treatments for chronic pain. 

“We are also excited to announce the online publication of a new National Guideline on the Management of Chronic Pain in children and Young People. This will be published on the Scottish Government website."

 The event runs from 9am to 5pm.