Pain affects more people than heart disease, cancer and diabetes combined. Over the last two decades the pain-management field has grown by leaps and bounds, with significant advancements in existing technologies and new options for pain relief being discovered year. However, as new pain-management options have become available, there has also been an increase in the potential for abuse.
Overdoses from narcotics have reached an all-time high, and as a result so have visits to emergency rooms. While the facts on narcotic-prescriptions overdoses are staggering, the statistics on pain management are even more overwhelming.
In the most recent study, a 2006 analysis conducted by the American Pain Foundation, sponsored by Endo Pharmaceuticals, assessed the impact chronic pain had on 303 patients who sought care from their doctors and were currently on opioid-based drugs to treat their pain. The study found:
- Over half of the respondents, 51%, felt as if they had little to no control over their pain.
- 60% of patients reported they experienced breakthrough pain at least once a day and that it severely impacted both their overall well-being and quality of life.
- Over 75% of patients reported feeling depressed.
- Two-thirds of patients reported having trouble concentrating.
- 75% of patients reported their energy levels being impacted by their pain.
- Over 80% of patients stated they had difficulty sleeping.
Back pain is one of the paramount pain-management issues. When surveyed about the top four types of pain by the National Institute of Health Statistics respondents indicated lower back pain was the most common, at 27%, severe headache and neck pain tied for second, at 15% each, followed by facial pain, at 4%. Here are some starting statistics:
- Back pain is the foremost cause of disability for Americans under 45 years of age, with over 26 million people between the ages of 20 and 64 experiencing frequent back pain.
- There is a 90% chance the average person will suffer some type of back pain during their lifetime. However, remarkably over 40% of all people over age 40 have signs of substantial spinal-disc degeneration with most not experiencing any back pain.
- In the U.S. back pain is the most common cause of employee disability, with rates of spinal surgery reaching five times those in the UK.
- Over 75% of the time even the most highly-skilled doctors are unable to locate a patient’s true source of back pain.
- Second only to upper-respiratory infections, back pain is the most common cause for doctor visits.
- In up to 15% of back-pain cases there is something much more serious happening than a simple back strain, such as cancer, infection or kidney or gallbladder stones.
- The total medical costs associated with neck and back pain now exceeds $100 billion, which is third behind heart disease and cancer.
- While these statistics may seem daunting, patients should take heart in the knowledge that science is continually making strides in pain management and seek help from their physician.