The subject of pain and pain management can be a difficult subject. Based on advertisements, a magic pill or potion can wipe away the hurt. Unfortunately, the reality is that chronic pain is a real and difficult subject.
Dr. Melanie Rosenblatt, the medical director of pain management at North Broward Medical Clinic, took the time to discuss the subject of chronic pain and the affect it has on many people. Here is a synopsis of the conversation.
1) What is chronic pain and what causes it?
Chronic pain is usually considered to be pain that lasts longer than three to six months, or longer than the time for normal healing to occur. In some cases, chronic pain starts from an accident or injury. Other times, it is the result of a disease such as cancer, osteoarthritis, neuropathy or fibromyalgia. But in many cases, there’s not a single, identifiable cause.
2) A new survey found that most people who suffer from chronic pain say it is disruptive to their daily lives. How does chronic pain affect individuals who live with it? How does it affect their loved ones?
Chronic pain is at least disruptive, and at worse, devastating, to a patient’s life. Patients may experience severe emotional distress that can lead to a downward spiral of withdrawal from social interactions, resistance to physical activity, isolation and depressive disorders, which in turn can lead to compound, physical effects; divorce, job loss, and, in some cases, crime and illicit drug use. Chronic pain is also a significant burden on the people they depend on for basic, daily assistance; spouses, children, parents and friends are often relied on for financial, emotional, and practical support, and can feel neglected or abused when the patient is unable to offer normal emotional responses in these situations.
3) What are some of the most surprising statistics about chronic pain in the U.S.?
· Chronic pain affects approximately 100 million American adults, more than diabetes, heart disease and cancer combined.
· Women are more likely to report pain than men.
· Non-Hispanic white adults report experiencing pain more often than other races and ethnicities.
· Adults living in families with income less than twice the poverty level report pain more often than adults with higher income.
4) I understand that chronic pain can be a subjective experience. How do you diagnose and measure chronic pain?
Measuring someone else’s pain is difficult since pain is essentially invisible. We can see a broken bone on an X-ray but we can’t see the pain. And chronic pain is not the same for everyone – it can be mild or severe, periodic or constant, inconvenient or incapacitating, and can also be exacerbated by accompanying emotional distress, sort of when pain causes more pain, and these factors need to be considered carefully in evaluating pain levels and arriving at the best course of treatment.
5) Why is this documentary so important? Where can people go for more information?
So many people suffer with chronic pain and don’t get the treatment they need. I treat patients everyday who say to me ‘I wish I had found you sooner. Why didn’t anybody ever tell me there was an alternative to suffering the way I have?’ And I tell them that we will look forward, not back at why, how, who. I think not enough people understand that there are very good treatments for chronic pain. Many doctors are undereducated on the treatment of chronic pain. Medical students get very little, if any, training in chronic pain. So I think the film is an excellent step in addressing this epidemic that affects the lives of so many people. And that some of the people who suffer from chronic pain will see this film and realize that there is hope. To see this film, please visit http://www.painmattersfilm.com/.