Chronic Pain Could Be Classified as a Disease

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Chronic Pain

Ireland’s Health Minister Says Chronic Pain Should Be Given The Same Resources as Other Major Conditions

Chronic pain often gets the short end when it comes to medical care. In many cases, doctors aren’t fully trained in pain management making it difficult for them to diagnosis a condition. Even worse, when a patient complains of pain, their doctor doesn’t always take their complaints seriously resulting in prolonged discomfort without a proper diagnosis and medicine. If pain were classified as a real disease, it would have a dramatic impact on the care of patients who live with conditions like arthritis, migraines and fibromyalgia.

As Irishhealth.com recently reported, Ireland’s Health Minister, James Reilly, has recognized the urgency to categorize chronic pain as a disease. By doing so, “[Ireland] would be taking a major step in transforming the lives of sufferers,” said Dean of the Faculty of Pain Medicine of Ireland Dr. Camillus Power.

Specialists across the European Union (EU) are working to have pain recognized as a chronic disease, in the same way as diabetes, cancer or asthma. If Ireland succeeds, it would be the first country in Europe to classify it on the same levels as other major conditions and diseases.

“Chronic pain is the most prevalent and most costly health problem in the world that, at the moment, is undiscovered and untreated,” said Australian Professor Michael Cousins.

Chronic pain affects 13% of the Irish population, around 400,000 people, with almost one-in-three people suffering severely, and 35% of people saying that their condition is not properly managed.

According to the National Center for Health Statistics Report: Health, United States, 2006, Special Feature on Pain, more than one-quarter of Americans (26%) age 20 years and over – or, an estimated 76.5 million Americans – report that they have had a problem with pain. And as reported by the American Academy of Pain Medicine, seven in 10 Americans feel that research and management should be one of the medical community’s top few priorities (16%) or a high priority (55%). Almost six in 10 adults (57%) say they would be willing to pay one dollar more per week in taxes to increase federal funding for the scientific research into the causes and treatment of pain.

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