Learning to Live with Pain

For countless people around the world, living with chronic pain is a daily reality.

According to a 2011 report by the Institute of Medicine, Relieving Pain in America, there were 100 million Americans dealing with chronic pain in 2010 and this number is certainly growing as the population ages.   Usually defined as pain lasting longer than three months and without a clear prognosis, the costs associated with chronic pain are astronomical.   One recent estimate by health economists at John Hopkins University puts the annual economic costs linked to chronic pain at $635 billion annually, far greater than for cancer, heart disease, or diabetes.  This includes direct costs such as health care and indirect costs resulting from lost work days or productivity.  

And then there is the psychological burden of dealing with chronic pain on a regular basis.   Not only do chronic pain sufferers experience a sharply reduced quality of life, but their prospects for relief are limited at best.   Concerns about prescription drug abuse often lead doctors to treat their pain patients as conservatively as possible, something that can result in greater suffering as a result.   Even worse, pain patients may acquire a reputation for medication seeking which can lead to their pain medication being terminated altogether.  


To read more, check out my new Psychology Today blog post.


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