National Pain Strategy: Focused On The Right Things?

National Pain Strategy–Is It Focused On The Right Things? – National Pain Report | April 7th, 2015

It has been about a week since the release of the draft of the long awaited National Pain Strategy by the National Institutes of Health.

“This report is long overdue.” said Dan Bennett M.D., the chair of the National Pain Foundation. “The acknowledgement that pain is unique, real and can be a disease, itself, is not new.  The report, however, is public document acknowledging information that has been ignored, by public agencies, for too long.”

After decades of “Drug War” propaganda painting opioid pain medication as “dangerous and addictive” and only for cancer patients, this report alone will not change public sentiment. We can only hope that this is the beginning of a change of heart in our government and society, with more understanding and sympathy for chronic pain. 

One of the main areas of emphasis is to identify and educate those sectors of our population that suffer from chronic pain but are often under diagnosed and undertreated.

To increase public awareness about pain and people with pain, the committee recommends developing a campaign that will cover the following learning objectives (listed in order of priority):

  • Chronic pain is a disease.
  • Chronic pain is manageable.
  • Chronic pain is more prevalent than cancer, diabetes, and heart disease combined.
  • Chronic pain is real.
  • Most Americans will experience chronic pain or care for someone with chronic pain.
  • People in chronic pain deserve respect, compassion, and access to timely treatment.
  • Many people in chronic pain nevertheless live productive lives.
  • Chronic pain may cause depression and depression increases the severity of pain.
  • Chronic pain may require a spectrum of medical treatments and/or non-medical interventions along with the active participation of people with chronic pain in their own pain care management.
  • Appropriate chronic pain management may involve prescription medications, which require knowledge of risks for adverse effects such as dependency and addiction.
  • Activity level and mood may vary depending on the intensity of chronic pain (good days and bad days).

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