CHRONIC PAIN- A PUBLIC HEALTH CRISIS?
Chronic pain, which is simply defined as pain that persists longer than three months, affects about 20 -25% of the population. It is a complex disorder where pain is but one of the daily problems. It also deeply affects almost every aspect of life including the psychological, social, spiritual, and professional, some of these issues actually driving the pain and heightening the pain perception.
It is therefore not surprising, that the majority of leading chronic pain experts insist that for full recovery to occur, the psychological and social issues should be addressed concurrently with the medical, the so-called bio-psychosocial approach. And yet this is exactly the category of treatment that is most often missing from the treatment plan.
How can this be?
The reasons for this are traditionally poor undergraduate physician training, and medical appointments that have become way too short, 15 perhaps 20 minutes with one’s own physician, but about 10 minutes at a walk-in clinic. This is way too little time for the knowledge and skills transfer that has to take place which is labor- intensive and time consuming.
Consequently, chronic pain a huge public health challenge, if not crisis, that costs the USA alone about several hundred billion dollars a year.