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223 N. Van Dien Avenue
Ridgewood, NJ 07450

Questions and Answers on Pain from The National Pain Foundation

 

The information presented on this page is provided by The National Pain Foundation (www.nationalpainfoundation.org) and Valley Health System.

1) How many people are in pain?

Nearly four in 10 Americans age 18 or older — 42 percent — experience pain each day, according to a recent Gallup Organization survey. The survey, released in June 1999, also found that approximately nine in 10 American adults — 89 percent — experience pain each month. Another survey published in the British medical journal The Lancet found that 46.5 percent of the population age 25 and older suffers from chronic pain. In the United States alone, an estimated 30 million to 50 million Americans suffer from chronic pain, which accounts for more than 80 percent of all physician visits. Each year, another 25 million people experience acute pain.

2) What is the impact of chronic pain on society?

In addition to the devastating toll pain takes on a person’s relationships, employment and enjoyment of life, chronic pain costs the nation an estimated $70 billion a year in medical claims, disability and lost productivity. The Nuprin Report, a 1986 survey of pain in the United States, noted that four billion work days are lost each year resulting in a financial loss of $79 billion per year to the U.S. economy.

3) What is the difference between chronic pain and acute pain?

Acute pain, or eudynia, is pain that represents an underlying disease process. It is a warning pain that is expected to occur secondary to an underlying disease or injury. Such pain can be mild to severe in intensity, but generally goes away or lessens as the underlying cause is treated or otherwise resolved. Chronic pain, or maldynia, represents changes in the peripheral or central nervous system that cause the pain to become a disease in and of itself. Such pain no longer serves as a warning for underlying disease or injury and can totally destroy a person’s life. Chronic pain can range from mild to severe in intensity and can last indefinitely if not treated appropriately. Recent research has demonstrated that undertreated eudynia can lead to maldynia.

4) What are the most common types of acute or chronic pain?

While pain has hundreds of causes, the conditions most associated with pain are:
• Arthritis
• Headaches
• Neck and back problems
• Cancer
• Neuropathies—Pain from damaged or diseased nerves in the body.
• Chronic Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) – An often-disabling condition, the cause of which is unknown. While causes and symptoms range widely, the one overriding symptom common to everyone with CRPS is severe pain that seems out of proportion to the injury or illness with which it is associated.
• Irritable Bowel Syndrome
• Pelvic Pain Disorder and Interstitial Cystitis (chronic bladder pain)
• Shingles (post-herpetic neuralgia)
• Soft Tissue Pain—For example, fibromyalgia, a common syndrome indicating widespread pain in fibrous tissues, muscles, tendons and other connective tissues.
• Phantom Pain—For example, pain that occurs in a missing extremity that has been amputated.

5) What is the best way to treat pain?

Just as there is no one cause of pain, there is no single treatment option. How pain is treated depends upon the diagnosis, symptoms, the apparent cause of pain and a multitude of other factors. However, untreated acute pain (eudynia) can definitely lead to the development of chronic pain (maldynia). If pain persists longer than an expected period of time, it is best to consult with a Pain Medicine practitioner. Please click here for information on Valley Hospital's Pain Management Program.

6) How does chronic pain affect children?

It is estimated that as many as 20 percent of children may be affected by chronic pain, which may predispose them to ongoing pain as adults.

7) What are the issues associated with children and pain?

Among the barriers to effective pain relief for children is the belief that children, particularly infants, don’t feel pain the same way adults do. A lack of assessment guidelines, fears about side effects of pain medications, and the belief by some that pain builds character in children contribute to the undertreatment of children in pain.

What is Pain Medicine?

Pain Medicine is a distinct medical specialty that was recognized by the American Medical Association in 1988. Pain Medicine is concerned with the study of pain, prevention of pain, and the evaluation, treatment and rehabilitation of persons in pain. Practitioners typically take an integrated, multi-disciplinary approach to pain management. The American Academy of Pain Medicine (AAPM) is the primary professional organization for physicians practicing Pain Medicine in the United States. The AAPM has approximately 1,300 members.

9) What role does the Pain Medicine physician play?

The Pain Medicine physician may serve as a consultant to other physicians and to public and private agencies or serve as a patient’s principal treating physician. He or she may provide care at various levels, such as direct treatment, prescribing medication, prescribing rehabilitation services, performing pain-relieving procedures, counseling patients and families, directing a multidisciplinary team, and coordinating care with other health care providers. Pain Medicine physicians work in a variety of settings and are qualified to treat the entire range of pain experienced by patients. Please click here for information on Valley Hospital's Pain Management Program.

10) What is the federal government doing to support research on pain?

The 106th Congress declared the first decade of the new millennium the "Decade of Pain Control and Research." Signed into law and beginning on Jan. 1, 2001, H.R. 3244 is a first step in stimulating further progress in research, education and clinical management. It is only the second congressionally declared medical decade, the first being the "Decade of the Brain" in the 1990s.

11) Does Valley Health System have a pain management program?

Yes. Please click here for more information.

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