Chronic pain is one of the most common ailments, affecting more than 100 million Americans. What may have begun as an acute episode related to injury or illness can progress into a constant or recurring painful sensation. While most pain sufferers are able to moderate their pain using medications or alternative therapies, for millions the pain is potent enough to incapacitate them and disrupt their lives. It is estimated that chronic pain costs the U.S. from $560 to $635 billion annually.
For many sufferers, pain is an almost persistent component of their lives for which there is little or no relief. Among the respondents of an American Pain Foundation survey, 51 percent felt they had no control over their pain, and 60 percent experienced a pain episode at least once daily that diminished their quality of life.
In most cases, pain is merely a symptom of a physiological disorder and is often ameliorated when the underlying cause is remedied. In America, the most common cause of chronic pain is lower back pain, a condition that affects 80 percent of the U.S. population at some time in their lives. This very serious condition is the leading cause of disability and is, in many cases, attributable to fractures, damaged discs, soft tissue damage or spinal stenosis. However, due to the complexity of the spinal system, almost nine in ten patients with back pain issues will never learn the primary cause of their pain.
Although only 7 percent of cases of acute back pain develop into chronic pain, more than 60 percent will experience a recurrence within two years. As with most issues involving chronic pain, the most common therapy is prescription painkillers, with 58 percent of cases meriting such a response.
Headaches are the second most common type of chronic pain, and may appear in a variety of intensities. More than 80 percent of people will suffer from headaches at some point in their lives, and almost 8 million Americans will seek medical help for headaches annually. Among the many variations are cluster headaches which are rated the most painful health condition known to medicine; luckily, this condition affects less than one percent of the population. Migraine headaches are much more common—affecting around 16 percent of people—and less painful, although often debilitating enough to disrupt the lives of sufferers.
Another common cause of chronic pain is arthritis which is expected to affect 78 million Americans by 2040. Arthritis is the leading cause of disability in the U.S. and almost four percent of the American workforce is limited in some way by arthritis. Pain, swelling and stiffness accompany this joint inflammation ailment that has been differentiated into more than 100 classifications.
The most common remedy for arthritis pain is non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen, but more arthritis sufferers are turning to alternative therapies like acupuncture, yoga or relaxation. Although not all of these treatments are ideal for every patient, many arthritis sufferers are recognizing the health risks of relying too heavily on pharmacological therapies.
Article written by: Dr. Robert Moghim – CEO/Founder Colorado Pain Care
M.D. Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are the personal views of Robert Moghim, M.D. and do not necessarily represent and are not intended to represent the views of the company or its employees.