The Cost Of Chronic Pain

The March 7th edition of Time Magazine has a whole section on chronic pain including a fascinating timeline of how pain has been managed over the years.  It’s just in recent history that pain has moved from being a side effect to being a condition to be management.

An article by Dr. Oz provides some statistics on pain:

  • The annual price tag of chronic pain is $50B.
  • Lower-back pain is one of the most common complaints affecting 70-85% of adults at some point.
  • 7M people are either partially or severely disabled because of their back pain.
  • Lower-back pain accounts for 93M lost workdays every year and consumes over $5B in costs.
  • 40M Americans suffer from arthritis pain.
  • 45M Americans suffer from chronic headaches.
  • People with chronic pain are twice as likely to suffer from depression and anxiety.

One of his key suggestions – if you’ve worked with your physician for six months and its not resolved – go see a specialist.

He also points you to the American Chronic Pain Association for communication tools in helping you verbalize your pain.

In his article and in the other articles, it talks about stretching as a way to alleviate pain.  Obviously, there are medications that can help with pain relief although some of them can be abused and addictive.  And, both Dr. Oz and the other articles mention acupuncture as a potential solution.

You can also go to the American Chronic Pain Association to learn more.

From a management space, one of the areas where chronic pain is a big area of focus is in Worker’s Compensation.  For more about this space, you can follow Joe Paduda’s blog.  You can also follow some of the Worker’s Compensation PBMs such as:

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2 Responses to “The Cost Of Chronic Pain”

  1. Hi There George Van Antwerp,
    On a similar note,, Chronic pain affects the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual aspects of a patient’s life. Daily non-cancer pain in the elderly has been associated with impaired activities of daily living, change in mood, and decreased involvement in social activities. Chronic pain impairs function, can lead to depression, and can even result in suicidal behavior. Chronic pain due to arthritis affects approximately 20 million Americans. This represents almost 50% of all pain sufferers.
    Keep up the posts!
    Service Dogs Are Angles Who Lift Us To Our Feet When Our Wings Have Forgotten How To Fly

  2. Dear George Van Antwerp,
    I was wondering on a similar note,, As I have written about in previous articles, pain is a bit of a mysterious phenomenon. While most people would assume that pain means that there is damage to a body part, the brain does not evaluate situations in that manner. The brain only sends a pain message when it senses that part of the body is in danger and protective actions need to be taken. But this does not mean that the tissues themselves are damaged in any way, only that the brain has determined that some danger is present and it would be a good idea to move away from the source of it.
    Good Job!
    I may be disabled but I will never be Diss-Abled

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