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05 June 2007 @ 07:52 am
Newsweek article on chronic pain  
Did you know 1 in 5 Americans suffer from chronic pain? Check out the Newsweek article about chronic pain and the new treatments being developed.


...Even as the VA hospital system has come under fire for poor care, Army doctors haven't just joined up in medicine's larger war against pain—they're leading the charge.

Winning this medical war is crucial, and not just for the sake of the soldiers, who are far from the only burgeoning new group of pain sufferers. Chronic pain is one of the most pervasive and intractable medical conditions in the United States, with one in five Americans afflicted. Aging baby boomers have reported in surveys more aches and pains than any previous generation. Cancer patients have more treatments to choose from than ever, but more pain, too. Even retired NFL players—a suck-it-up group if ever there was one—have started speaking out about the wear and tear on their bodies. Civilian chronic pain already costs the country $61 billion in lost productivity and many more in medical fees. Treating the soldiers in the coming years will add at least $340 billion to the toll.

As the number of patients has grown, though, so has medicine's understanding of what pain is. Scientists once viewed it as merely a symptom of injury, an intuitive idea that resonated with laymen. "The public understanding of pain has been that it's a stubbed toe or a broken bone," says Will Rowe, executive director of the American Pain Foundation. "But that's just one aspect of it. Now there's a growing awareness that pain is a disease of its own."

This is far more than a semantic change, Rowe adds: it's "tectonic." Docs now know that the brain and spinal cord rewire themselves in response to injuries, forming "pain pathways" that can become pathologically overactive years later. They are trying to sever this maladaptive mind-body connection with a host of new drugs and approaches. Some focus on recently discovered chemical receptors in the brain and muscles. Others pack all the punch of narcotics with less of the specter of addiction.

Once I change doctors to my new area I'm going to look into a referral for a pain management program or clinic.
labrys6 on June 5th, 2007 05:34 pm (UTC)
Interesting. I have to say the only "pain management" place I ever went to struck me as over-freaking-priced and under-damned-effective. And I was rather shocked to see spinal fusion listed as ineffective; had my cervical spine not been fused from C-7 to C-4 I would have by now completely lost use of my arms and likely have hung myself to escape the pain before that happened.

I also worry about statements like "patients with a four on pain may report a seven to get aggressive help"...because I personally have never lied about a pain level and I do have a very high tolerance; I still get routinely ignored. So if patients lie, it is because they know doctors routinely discount their complaints.

I am at a point in my life of being completely disenchanted by the medical profession, for the most part. I have to be damn near unconscious or incoherent with pain to even see a doctor these days; I don't see that changing in spite of flares of what my former doctor routinely refused to admit was fibromyalgia---he would not do any of the diagnostic tests either. I was not, interestingly, asking for drugs at all for the pain, but steadfastly refusing pills. And that is all he wanted to offer.

Insurance companies have become a bane of medical care, if you ask me. Docs cater to their lists of can and cannots to the detriment of patients; stockholder concerns rate higher than the suffering of the patients. Pain is only an issue if they can profit from it somehow.
lunamoth42 on June 5th, 2007 06:47 pm (UTC)
Thank you for posting this article. I know several people I'm going to pass it along to.