Pain Is a Public Health Issue and Economic Burden in U.S.

Integrated approach and research needed to treat, manage, and prevent chronic pain

THURSDAY, June 30 (HealthDay News) -- An integrated approach that responds to all the factors influencing pain can successfully treat, manage, and prevent chronic pain, according to a report published in June by the Institute of Medicine (IOM), on behalf of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Philip A. Pizzo, P.M.D., from the IOM's Committee on Advancing Pain Research, Care, and Education in Washington, D.C., and colleagues investigated pain as a public health problem in the United States and analyzed the state of pain research, care, and education. They offered recommendations for transforming prevention, care, education, and research in pain.

The authors report that approximately 116 million American adults suffer from chronic pain. Annual costs of medical treatment for pain care and loss of productivity due to pain are up to $635 billion. Treatments for pain include medications, surgery, counseling, therapy, and alternative therapies, but for many people these treatments are inadequate. Creating awareness, and educating health professionals and patients can improve pain management and bridge the gap between patients and health care providers. Pain care can be improved by tailoring care according to each person's experience, self-management of pain by patients, and by collaboration between primary care physicians and pain specialists. The Medicare, Medicaid, and workers' compensation programs, and private health plans should cover interdisciplinary pain care. The report recommends that the NIH should designate a lead institute for pain research in the biological, cognitive, psychological, genomics, cellular, and behavioral basis of pain management.

"Given the burden of pain in human lives, dollars, and social consequences, relieving pain should be a national priority," the authors write.

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