Chronic pain should be considered a disease

February 15, 2008

The concept that chronic pain is a disease in its own right is leading to new specific treatments aimed at physical, psychological, and environmental components of this major disease, including genetic predisposition, according to a world renowned pain medicine expert.

Michael J Cousins AM, MD, DSc, professor and director of the Pain Management Research Institute at the University of Sydney, Royal North Shore Hospital, in Australia, presented the Decade of Pain plenary session on February 14, 2008, at the 24th Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Pain Medicine at the Gaylord Palms in Orlando, Florida.

“Chronic pain is different from acute pain,” explained Dr. Cousins. “If pain persists despite reasonable treatment from a primary care physician and other specialists, the advice of a pain medicine specialist should be sought. The earlier such help is obtained the greater the chance of returning to a reasonable range of life activities.”

According to the National Center for Health Statistics 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. Studies from the Pain Management Research Institute reveal an annual cost of $1.85 billion per 1 million people.

“In the near future, diagnosis and treatment of persistent pain will be markedly different,” Dr. Cousins stated. “Drugs such as morphine that provide only symptomatic relief will be replaced by or supplemented with a new generation of therapies targeted at the disease process.”

The availability of new treatments may challenge the medical system. Dr. Cousins noted that too few pain medicine specialists are being trained and not enough pain patients have access to effective treatments.

“Pain management needs to become a fundamental human right: a bundle of initiatives will be needed in Medicine, Law, Ethics, Politics,” concluded Dr. Cousins.

Dr. Cousins also addressed the genetics of pain and brain imaging research.

Dr. Cousins has been the driving force in Australia, as well as internationally, in drawing attention to evidence that shows that severe persistent pain becomes a “disease entity” and has also championed the concept of pain relief as a basic human right.

Source: American Academy of Pain Medicine

Explore further: It really may be the best medicine

Related Stories

Practicing Tai Chi Boosts Immune System in Older Adults

March 22, 2007

Tai chi chih, the Westernized version of the 2,000-year-old Chinese martial art characterized by slow movement and meditation, significantly boosts the immune systems of older adults against the virus that leads to the painful, ...

Don't add an ER visit to your holiday plans

November 18, 2009

( -- UNC emergency physician Abhi Mehrotra, M.D., explains how you can avoid the most common injuries that land people in a hospital emergency department during the four-day Thanksgiving holiday period.

Novel polymer helps oral medications reach the bloodstream

August 28, 2013

All too often, when a person takes a pill full of a potent and effective drug, the drug passes straight through the body, not reaching the organ where it is needed—a waste of money and inconvenient if it is a cold medicine, ...

Recommended for you

How the finch changes its tune

August 3, 2015

Like top musicians, songbirds train from a young age to weed out errors and trim variability from their songs, ultimately becoming consistent and reliable performers. But as with human musicians, even the best are not machines. ...

Machine Translates Thoughts into Speech in Real Time

December 21, 2009

( -- By implanting an electrode into the brain of a person with locked-in syndrome, scientists have demonstrated how to wirelessly transmit neural signals to a speech synthesizer. The "thought-to-speech" process ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.