The public health problem that needs to be addressed next is the epidemic of pain, according to pain medicine physicians who came together to discuss the latest in pain research and treatment at the 24th Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Pain Medicine (AAPM).
“In recent decades, Americans, with the help of their physicians, have been asked to stop smoking and lose weight. Now it is time to focus our efforts on undertreated pain,” says B. Todd Sitzman, MD, MPH, AAPM President and medical director of Advanced Pain Therapy, PLLC, a comprehensive pain clinic affiliated with Forrest General Hospital Cancer Center in Hattiesburg, Miss.
An estimated 60 million Americans live with chronic pain, a condition that is more prevalent among the elderly. As the 75 million Baby Boomers move toward retirement, more and more Americans are expected to have untreated or undertreated pain. Pain is vastly undertreated for a variety of reasons including misconceptions regarding opioid addiction, lack of access to care, cultural norms, and physician concerns about prescribing pain medications for chronic pain.
Pain Medicine is a medical specialty which utilized multiple modalities to diagnosis and effectively manage chronic pain. Additionally, pain medicine physicians deliver comprehensive care by combining techniques from several medical specialties. For instance, physical medicine techniques can be complemented by psychiatry and neurosurgery skills. “We treat pain aggressively to help our patients live fulfilling, productive lives,” Sitzman adds.