Monday, November 26, 2012

Chronic Pain New Public Health Epidemic?

The El Paso Times recently discussed the epidemic of chronic pain. The original 11/19 article, written by Dr. Ahmed Bahr, can be read by continuing below or going to their website:
Serious, chronic pain affects at least 116 million Americans each year, according to a recent report by the Institute of Medicine. The report referred to pain as the new "public health crisis."
People suffering chronic pain cost the country $560 billion to $635 billion each year in medical bills, lost productivity and missed work. The reasons for long-lasting pain are many - from cancer and multiple sclerosis to back pain and arthritis.
Chronic pain is any pain that lasts 30 to 60 days or more and takes a toll on someone's personal and professional life, which can lead to a downward cycle of sleeplessness, anxiety, depression and decreased mobility.
Chronic pain can be mild or excruciating, episodic or continuous, merely inconvenient or totally incapacitating.
Further, as baby boomers age, the rate of chronic pain increases daily. The need has never been greater for therapies that provide long-term relief.
Specialty of pain medicine
The specialty of pain medicine is concerned with the prevention, diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of painful disorders. This specialty is practiced by physicians who are able to draw from a wide range of therapeutic modalities to design a treatment program tailored to a person's specific needs. Pain problems seen by pain management physicians include:

  • Low back pain.
  • Disc problems. 
  • Sciatica.
  • Failed back syndrome from a previous back surgery. 
  • Neck pain.
  • Arthritis.
  • Post-surgical pain syndromes. 
  • Complex regional pain syndromes.
  • Cancer pain.
  • Post-therapeutic neuralgia (shingles).

When it comes to treating chronic pain, no single technique is guaranteed to produce complete pain relief. There are many different pain management options available. While medication can be effective, there are other treatment approaches used to bring relief to chronic pain sufferers. The following are just a few options:
  • Trigger point injections. Epidural steroid injections.
  • Discography.
  • Radiofrequency ablation.
  • Spinal cord stimulation.
  • Specialized nerve blocks.
  • Spinal medication delivery systems.
  • Minimally invasive lumbar decompression.
  • Rehabilitation.
  • Acupuncture.

Patients who suffer chronic pain that has not improved with conventional therapies such as pain medications can be referred by their primary care doctor to a pain management specialist. The specialist will discuss all options available before a treatment decision is made. 

Attorney Doug Stoehr is a personal injury lawyer serving the western and central Pennsylvania area. For more information on his practice, please visit his website at  

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