WEST HARTFORD, CONN., AUGUST 1, 2022 – Nearly all of individuals with chronic pain feel stigmatized by their medical providers. The finding is the results of a comprehensive survey report released today by the U.S. Pain Foundation. Among the many report’s more disturbing findings was that folks with pain often feel their health care providers are usually not equipped to administer their pain effectively. Over two-thirds (69%) either didn’t feel, or only “rarely” or “sometimes” felt, that their provider was on a team with them.
The organization surveyed 2,378 individuals to assemble insight about individual experiences living with, caring for, or treating chronic pain. Nearly all respondents (96%) were people living with chronic pain, which is defined as pain lasting three months or more. Caregivers marked the second-largest group of respondents (3%), followed by health care professionals (1%). The majority of the report focuses on the impact of chronic pain on those living with it.
“Chronic pain is vastly under-recognized, funded, and treated when considering its significant impact on American lives,” says U.S. Pain Foundation CEO Nicole Hemmenway.
Chronic pain in numbers
Nearly three-quarters (74%) of respondents had lived with pain for greater than 10 years. While conditions varied widely, probably the most common pain conditions were primarily musculoskeletal in nature: back pain (67%), arthritis (56%), chronic low back pain (56%), nerve pain or neuropathy (53%), and neck pain (51%).
Over half (52%) said their average pain level is 7 or more on a scale of 1-10. 95% of respondents had no less than one comorbidity, and just about all (99%) said pain has restricted their ability to have interaction in routine activities, like exercise, household chores, sleeping, and socializing. The bulk (60%) said they feel anxiety-like symptoms day by day or a couple of times every week, and an identical portion (59%) feel depression-like symptoms day by day or a couple of times every week.
“Individuals are suffering, over and over with multiple comorbidities, to the purpose of not having the ability to even shower or make a meal,” adds Hemmenway. “These enormous figures underscore the complexity of the health of this patient population.”
Treatments that help—and barriers to access
Multidisciplinary approaches were widely employed, with the highest strategies including activity restriction or modification (73%), stress reduction techniques (42%), heat therapy (41%), and meditation and mindfulness (40%). In reality, activity restriction or modification is the most-used specific “therapy” of any kind across all categories, apart from prescription medications as a complete category.
Relating to medications, a majority (77%) said prescription medications are probably the most helpful treatment in managing their pain. Roughly half of respondents take opioid medications (47%), although three-quarters of that group say they’ve faced significant barriers obtaining their medications. Nearly all (94%) of those taking opioids said they attribute these barriers to the 2016 CDC Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain. A telling finding was that almost 1 / 4 (24%) said no side effect would prevent them from trying a drugs to administer pain, underscoring the desperation for relief.
Cost stays the first barrier to pain care. In accordance with individuals with pain, the leading barrier to treatment was cost (49%), with nearly half (41%) of individuals with pain saying they felt insurance coverage decisions are driven by cost, not by what was of their best interest medically.
Change is desperately needed
Basically, the info suggests not enough is being done for the management of chronic pain in America. Nearly half of respondents (41%), when asked about their top policy issues, reported wanting increased pain education for health care providers and latest medications for chronic pain.
“Clearly, this report points to ample opportunities for all of us—patient groups, health care providers, insurers, and policymakers—to work together to higher serve individuals with pain and improve pain look after hundreds of thousands of Americans,” says Hemmenway.
To learn more in regards to the results and download the total report, visit uspainfoundation.org/surveyreports/a-chronic-pain-crisis.
About U.S. Pain Foundation
The mission of the U.S. Pain Foundation is to empower, educate, connect, and advocate for people living with chronic illness and serious injuries that cause pain, in addition to their caregivers and clinicians. Its programs and services include a network of support groups, educational resources and events, a program for kids and their families, federal advocacy efforts, a magazine called the INvisible Project, and more. The U.S. Pain Foundation is a 501(3)(c) nonprofit organization.
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