You know, like most with chronic pain, we wish we were not quite so aware of pain. But aware we are as it sucks our concentration from other things. However, in this day and age, it is vital to spread awareness about chronic pain, more so than even past years.
Why is that, you ask?
Two things that really make no sense when you look at them together.
- There is a pain epidemic. 1.5 billion people worldwide have chronic pain. How is it treated? Not well, not well at all.
- There is an opiate ‘epidemic’. How much of addiction to opiates is accounted for by prescription abuse though is another matter. And the number of chronic pain patients in comparison to That should be considered before you treat everyone like an addict.
259 million prescriptions for opioids written in 2012 – “enough for every American adult to have a bottle of pills”
- 300% increase in prescriptions since 1999 without an overall change in the amount of pain Americans report
- 2 million Americans abused or were dependent on opioids in 2013
- 16,000 people died due to overdose related to opioids.
Data missing from the CDC’s headlines include (source: American Academy of Pain Medicine):
100 million Americans suffer in chronic pain
Pain costs American society at least $560 – $635 Billion annually (equivalent to $2,000 per American)
Pain affects more Americans than diabetes, heart disease and cancer National Pain report
It is a game of stats for sure when you look at it. Even those first ones. “For example, which is more dramatic, 257 million opiate prescriptions written providing enough opiates for every adult in America, or the statistic that 6.4% of all prescriptions written are opiates?” National Pain Report Not to mention addicted to and being dependent on a medication are not the same thing.
And who suffers in this equation?
Chronic pain patients suffer. The ones who need pain medication to just function somewhat. Take them away and they cannot function with the pain, at all. Not working. Not doing anything. I personally would rather have proper pain management so I can work. But that is just me. Weird, I know. That I would actually choose some level of functionality and quality of life. And keenly remember the lack of it. So weird that I would prefer pain management. Those others would likewise want some quality of life. How Demanding.
“We talk a lot about the opioid crisis, but we don’t talk much about chronic pain,” says Paul Gileno, president and founder, who began having pain after a serious work accident in 2003. “In order to effectively address the opioid epidemic, we should also be thinking about how to address the parallel problem of chronic pain, whether by providing more funding for pain research, encouraging insurers to provide more coverage for nonpharmaceutical treatment options, or creating better support services for people and families affected by pain.” National Pain Report
Why don’t we take pain seriously anymore? Why doesn’t the quality of life matter? Why don’t they remember that pain alone is a suicide risk? Why are they punishing those who suffer so much already just to get through the damn day?
Without replacing that treatment with anything remotely effective immediately. No, they just drop the medication. Without realizing replacing it with alternative treatments a) may not be sufficient and b) take a long time to work. Things like exercise, for example, can be exceeding slow to see results on. Took me 6 months to work Up To 20 minutes on a stationary bike. And that was with consistent painful effort on my part.
Personally, my pain management is slow release tramadol, exercise, meditation, physio exercises, migraine medication (preventatives, botox, and abortives). And that is doctor prescribed. Not including vitamins, herbal supplements, aromatherapy, pain balms. And that all helps me function in a basic capacity so that I can work. No one thing would do it. Lyrica didn’t. NSAIDs messed up my stomach with a bleeding ulcer and stomach symptoms that led to a permanent drug sensitivity. I tried a lot of off-label medications. I can’t even take antidepressants because they make me quite depressed. I would get rebound headaches from most opiates. Chronic pain is quite complicated this way. With what medications work or do not work. What methods work or do not work. What combinations of things to do. And most importantly we want to raise our quality of life.
So, basically, opiates may not be the solution to pain but they may be part of someone’s pain management. Pain management doesn’t Necessarily include opiates either, it just means what is states: Management of Pain. A climate of intimidating doctors to not utilize a potential treatment and treating patients like addicts is not a productive way to go about managing pain. And certainly denying some patients with pain that can Only be managed with opiates their medication seems to me to be outright horrifying and not what we as a society should want. I personally would be terrified of developing one of those pain conditions, knowing it wouldn’t be properly treated and I would just have to suffer with it forever. What a living hell. Pain management should be a right. We shouldn’t Want people to suffer like that, should we? What does that say about us as a culture that we would allow that? To not only find it acceptable that we are denying them proper pain management but also are fine with the fact some of these patients are committing suicide as a result. We should find this appalling.
For every single pain patient, I believe we have the right to proper, careful and developed pain management. Whatever that may include. And however long it takes to figure out the pain puzzle that is every single one of us. Any progress in improving our quality of life is Important.
And I believe this isn’t a priority anymore.