I’m always interested in any new research into chronic pain, especially pain like I have with fibromyalgia or like my friend has with PTSD. I came upon this article this morning and wanted to share it. It discusses several new research avenues for chronic pain that have shown success in very early trials. I also liked the article’s emphasis on a greater need for national support into pain research.
“Currently, ‘pain treatment occupies about 10 percent of all healthcare expenditures but receives about 1 percent of research funding,’ says Roger Fillingim, a professor at the University of Florida College of Dentistry and president of the American Pain Society, a professional group.”
Chronic pain costs the US an estimated $635 billion a year in healthcare and labor expenses. That’s more than major diseases like diabetes and heart disease. You’d think there would be more financial backing into something that is so pervasive into our society right now. I’m just glad to find this article and read about a few new avenues of research that might help us one day.
About one third of Americans, an estimated 100 million people, suffer from chronic pain, making it one of the most common reasons people visit the doctor. Pain can be the side effect of serious medical problems like cancer and rheumatoid arthritis, but it also exists independently of any other medical condition. Despite decades of research and millions of dollars devoted to studying the problem, current therapies provide only marginal relief for many sufferers. But there are glimmers of hope. Among other developments, researchers today are working on novel approaches that focus on controlling activity in the brain’s pain centers and on cells previously thought to play only a supporting role in the central nervous system.
Success can’t come any too soon. Prescription drugs like Oxycontin, Percocet, and Vicodin, while effective weapons against chronic pain, are under increasing scrutiny because they can be addictive for patients and have also been abused by others who simply take them, without prescriptions, for their euphoria-producing effects. To relieve the widespread overdependence on painkillers, researchers are investigating new ways to attack this most primitive sensation and not merely mask it, as opioid drugs do. But researchers have to tread carefully, as pain can help keep “us out of trouble,” as in a warning to draw back from a hot stove, says Sean Mackey, chief of the pain management division at Stanford University School of Medicine. The goal is to lessen or eliminate chronic pain that serves no useful purpose.
Read more here.