iSAW 01.02- Relieving Pain in America Pt. 2

Pain and disability

In my last post I revealed the costs of “Relieving Pain in America’ to be over $600 billion per year (Institute of Medicine 2011). This money is spent on traditional treatments including medications, surgery, behavioral / psychological interventions, and rehabilitation therapies. But, the biggest single cost ($300 billion) to the country is through disability – the money lost through absenteeism, lost income and lost productivity.

Chronic pain is not prolonged acute pain

As this heading suggests pain is biochemically and neurologically altered over a period of time. Terms like peripheral and central sensitization are used to explain these changes. All pain is very subjective, meaning that each individual’s experience is different. It’s this neuroplasticity that makes chronic pain a tricky customer. Traditional pain relieving methods may not be working so well.

Consumer driven pain relief

People with chronic pain are frequent users of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), despite having to pay-out-of-pocket. CAM includes acupuncture (now being provided at 360NMT), chiropractic, massage therapy and yoga. Many times they are integrated. CAM utilizes a willingness to listen within a longer duration session. Sessions are personalized, adaptable, and empathetic. Three-fifths of back pain sufferers reported “a great deal” of benefit from CAM, according to one study (Kanodia et al 2010).

Prevention may be the cure to the costs

One IOM conclusion is that “pain prevention offers the prospect of substantial savings in US health-care costs”. I would add to that early intervention. Intervene before the acute becomes chronic.