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Sunday, October 2, 2011

Chronic Pain

Pain is now the most common reason why patients seek medical care. Data compiled by the CDC shows that in 2007, analgesics, as a group, was the number one prescribed category of medications in the US, approximately 13% of all prescriptions. The number is most likely higher now.

Pain can be either acute or chronic. Acute pain is the one you get with injury, such as a motor vehicle accident, moving furniture, or playing sports. Chronic pain is sometimes harder to define. Some authorities define chronic pain as pain that persists, despite attempts to cure it, for six months. Others call the pain chronic after 3 months. It appears that the best definition for chronic pain is pain that persists for a period longer than is medically expected for it to resolve.

The economic cost of chronic pain is mind boggling. The American Academy of Pain Medicine reports that in 2011, at least 116 million people in the US have "common chronic pain." Low back pain, migraine (or other form of headache) and neck pain are the leading diagnoses. A significant percentage of chronic pain patients (at least 20%) have had to take medical leave from their jobs and 16% had to modify their jobs. You can only imagine what this does to a person caught with this problem when unemployment is so high.

The cost for direct medical care for chronic pain is estimated to be $261-$300 billion a year. The lost of productivity is $297-$336 billion. This is almost $200 a year for each man woman and child in the US, and it's most likely an underestimate.

Treatment of chronic pain depends on the cause, severity, and the overall health of the person affected. To be effective, treatment is frequently multidisciplinary. Depending on the situation, it may involve medications, physical therapy, surgical intervention, biofeedback, hypnosis, management of stress or depression, exercise and reconditioning, acupuncture, chiropractic, weight management…and the list goes on…

So, it's very important to identify the cause of pain and treat it early in the game, before it becomes chronic. When the pain does become chronic, it is most important to control it, so that the patient can return to the mainstream of life, and become functional despite the pain.

Need help? Don't hesitate to call.

1 comment:

  1. Depression can be a monster. I personally seek to manage it on a daily basis with tension relaxation routines.
    Stress and anxiety


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