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Some Facts About Chronic Pain

dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,721
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:23 AM in Chronic Pain
This is some interesting data that I pulled from a Sunday newspaper:

Some 76 million Americans live with chronic pain
(from American Academy of Pain Medicine)
This is a higher number than which Diabetes, Heart Disease,
and Cancer have combined!

Annual cost of Chronic Pain in the U.S. is $100 billion in
health care expense, lost income and diminished productivity.

Those are some pretty heft facts
Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com


  • :O
    That's some big numbers.

    But then again, Wall Street apparently costs more than we do!

    Federal Government would have saved money financing our ride instead of Wall Street's!

  • that is a huge number. Hopefully with the constant changes in medical technology, that number will decrease soon.. :B jade
  • What boggles my mind, is thinking about how in the world our ancestors made it through the day working and doing so much more manual labor than we typically do now. You know that they had to be hurting themselves and many suffering chronic pain. How did they cope?

    I've always wondered if maybe since they were so much more physically active, were they in better shape with stronger core muscles, hence avoiding lower back issues a bit more.

    Is untreated chronic pain something that contributed to the shorter lifespan?

    Is it why there was such a propensity for alcohol consumption?

    Like I said, it boggles my mind when I think about it.

  • Very interesting facts there...

    C, my PT guy always says to "build my core" also interseting thoughts there.
  • "C' - our ancestors had some fairly powerful medicine men (I think they were mostly men, but there could have been some women). They knew the proper herbals and the roots to chew when pain was bad. From some of the ancient sites that have been dug up, it seems that ancient folks lived with broken bones, tumors, etc., some for quite a long time with their afflictions. I think they just didn't have to pay huge corporations to get their drugs. They just went to the local shaman.

    3 level spinal fusion, L3/4, L4/5, L5/S1, November 2008. Stiff, but I can walk.
  • just curious, who determines if you have chronic pain? does the diagnosis have to come from a pain dr or is it from a patient who says i hurt all the time. some people say they hurt, but sometimes there is no evidence that they are in pain especially if an mri is not done. as you know back pain sometimes is subjective without a proper diagnosis such as mri's. does a diagnosis from a pain dr the only criteria or can it come from a general physician? these are big numbers. i just wonder what evidence they base these claims on. does anyone know?
    I have 4 fusions from L5-3, the latest last May '12 where they fixed my disc that broke.They went through my side this time. I take 40 mg of oxycontin 4x a day and 4 fenatyl lollipops 300 micro gms 4x a day.
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,721
    article may have stated where it got its information from, but I no longer have the paper.
    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
  • thanks ron. anyone else know?
    I have 4 fusions from L5-3, the latest last May '12 where they fixed my disc that broke.They went through my side this time. I take 40 mg of oxycontin 4x a day and 4 fenatyl lollipops 300 micro gms 4x a day.
  • if there are about 220 million people in the u.s. that means that means that 1/3 of americans suffer from chronic pain. like i said what if you go in to a dr and say i have a back pain i have all the time but i have not had an mri, does that count? or is it if a patient goes in with mri results and complains of chronic pain is that what counts? anyone can go to a dr complaining of pain but does it need to be proved to be considered as part of this study. 1/3 of all americans is a very high number. if you divide 76 by 200 you get 35%
    I have 4 fusions from L5-3, the latest last May '12 where they fixed my disc that broke.They went through my side this time. I take 40 mg of oxycontin 4x a day and 4 fenatyl lollipops 300 micro gms 4x a day.
  • subjective. That is what we're taught anyway. The patient is always right. But, then there has to be a reason for the pain, regardless..therefore there are PM docs, when ortho, IM, FP and all the others give-up.
  • IMHO just because someone doesn't have a diagnosis, or the test such as an mri, doesn't show the cause doesn't make the pain any less real. Technology is developing every day, new diseases, syndromes that explain what is wrong could be discovered tomorrow, next month, in ten years. Does that make a person's pain any less when they are experiencing it? There are many documented cases of people who experience chronic pain, with no apparent cause, eg people suffering from fibro. There are still many Dr's that don't believe in it. Does that make that person's pain any less? Or does it show that technology can't show everything yet, in my opinion it is the later.

  • Fibromyalgia a diagnosis, despite aceptance from some?
    And that certainly doesn't make anyones' pain less. It actually put those drs. bedhind for not believing..or being inquisitive. Seems they have forgotten how to be investigative.
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,721
    at times for people to distinguish between Acute Pain and Chronic Pain But whats to say that a person with acute pain at the moment has a higher pain level than a person with chronic pain.

    I've always been troubled by the pain scale. I know that its a medical way to help identify how a person is feeling, but lets put two people side by side, both with chronic pain and the exact same spinal problems.

    Patient A has a pain level of 4
    Patient B has a pain level of 9

    Is one patient right and the other wrong? Is one patient suffering more than the other?
    Does the medical field jump to see what can be done for the person at pain level 9 and put aside the one with pain level 4??

    I believe there really isn't any accurate way to identify a pain level. Its not like you can put a thermometer in your mouth and it measures your pain.

    Pain is pain, and I think one of the best ways to identify when a person is really suffering from pain is to look into their eyes. No matter what pain level they say that there are in, the eyes will tell you more.
    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
  • I myself am not a numbers person
    I have chronic pain
    I have always read if you have the same pain for over 3 months that is considered chronic pain, my understanding of it all is many people have the same pain for over 3 months,(that would make them a chronic pain sufferer) doesn't mean that in 6 months(or what ever amount of time) that pain is fixed or taken away from person and then they do not have chronic pain.(my opinion)
    I don't believe that once you have chronic pain you have it 4ever.(my opinion)
    so I would think numbers would change daily.
    I try not to get to deep into thought with certain things(that's just me patsy)

    What is important to one is not to another.(the truth- not a opinion)

    That is what makes this world and this board exciting and interesting. It would be a boring world (my opinion) if everyone thought and believed the same.
  • I'm not sure on how it all works, at one time I know I did.
    I remember something to do with serotonin levels in the brain and substance P levels having something to do with how a individual pain tolerance is. Just something little I do remember. I'm sure it can be found in many books and the web. If anyone wants to know more understanding about that.p.s.
    just a thought, opinion, something in back of my brain, and I thought maybe it will help someone with the understanding, If they were interested in it. Patsy
  • my ortho says one of the worse things that can happen is someone come in and complain of chronic pain,back, then an mri is done and they find nothing wrong. then they do other tests like discography and nerve conduction test and the same thing, nothing shows up. he says he is obliged morally to say this person has chronic pain but also to tell them nothing shows up and there is nothing that an be done. he is not going to open them up just because they have pain but he still has to treat it. i believe meds are the next option, but since there is nothing that can be shown, now this is my opinion, they will give meds, nerve pills, anti inflamatories, injections etc, but he will probably not give out narcotics. i believe that a dr is hesitant to give out narcotics if there is nothing to show. if he gets dinged by the dea, he has to justify giving narcotics out to a patient who shows no damage.

    I have 4 fusions from L5-3, the latest last May '12 where they fixed my disc that broke.They went through my side this time. I take 40 mg of oxycontin 4x a day and 4 fenatyl lollipops 300 micro gms 4x a day.
  • I have never talked to doctor about chronic pain in specifics. so I have no clue or idea what or how they think about chronic pain from my own experience
    Thanks for your insight and I like hearing your opinions jon
  • your welcome. i just talk with drs because i am interested in what they think but how this affects my pain. i'm lucky to have good drs from my ortho to pain dr to family ddr. the only one who is weird about pain meds is my dentist. if am a firm believer in letting all drs know what is going on with me so i tell all my meds and chronic pain. they all have been supportive and not confrontational

    jon =D> >:D<
    I have 4 fusions from L5-3, the latest last May '12 where they fixed my disc that broke.They went through my side this time. I take 40 mg of oxycontin 4x a day and 4 fenatyl lollipops 300 micro gms 4x a day.
  • have trouble with the pain scale dilauro. The current 1-10 scale used is ineffective for pain asessment, because so many pts. have the same problem rating their pain. They say,"Why don't you just ask me how bad it hurts?"
    To me it should be asked if you pain is mild/tolerable; moderate/becoming intolerable; severe/worst pain ever...or something along those lines.
    It's an old, outdated system that just doesn't work..I don't think it ever did.
  • exactly. they say 10 on the painscale is the worst pain you have ever felt. well, many have had surgies, or bad injuries that were extremly painful to go thru so our pain level wouldnt be a 10, compared to someone who say has never had surgery or anything happen that caused them alot of pain, theirs would be a 10. and then you have pain tolerance. I know that i get pain sometimes so bad that i get sick, throw up etc but i still wouldnt call it a 10 because the worst pain i have ever had was after my ps after i lost weight with the gastric bypass.
    oops there i go yakin away from the subject lol sorry
    but i am sure i got my point accross
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,721
    I have repeated this on the old site as well as here. I am not a big fan of the current pain scales .
    What I like is something very simple

    I am feeling pretty good

    I an not feeling that great

    I feel like hell, leave me alone

    Using this, I pretty much know what pain level is present
    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
  • j.howiejj.howie Brentwood, Ca., USAPosts: 1,728
    Hi all, I Like the frankness of your scale, although I really don't have a problem with the current one. But I think from here on I'll use a combination of the two. By the way One of the news programs that I watch, I think 60 min. or Brian Williams, had a piece on chronic pain very recently. I'm quite sure they reported the exact numbers as you read. Jon I think they must use something as a rule stick to qualify as "chronic pain" maybe x amount of dollars spent, x amount of work lost, x amount of reported cases. It would be interesting to know exactly how they determine It.
    Good luck Jim
    Click my name to see my Medical history
    You get what you get, not what you deserve......I stole that from Susan (rip)
    Today is yours to embrace........ for tomorrow, who knows what might be starring you in the face!
  • feelin good
    feelin bad
    feelin cruddy
  • I get your point and I'm behind you 100%
    Over years levels change in are brain, depending on many different things or reasons during our life's with pain and tolerance to it)
    I personal feel I can handle and endure(tolerate) much more pain then... say my hubby, who personal is twice my size and my strength... If that makes any since I'm not sure.patsy
  • As for the pain scale it sure came in handy the day of my revision surgery.
    I had to wait so long as the Dr was behind, I started getting sick.
    They have (walkie talkie) things now the nurses/drs etc speak into.
    All the nurse had to say to the O.R. holding area.
    10 on 10 headache
    10 on 10 nausea
    And boy I never was rushed back so fast in the holding area and admistered meds!!! :O :O

    I know when I am at a 10 or above Im to the point of screaming, gagging and getting sick.

    It is also a AWESOME scale for children. Or people with learning disablilties/elderly.
    I only say this not because of myself but working with patients that were unable to speak and well boy did that chart come in handy!!!!

    I also agree with statements of.
    Not feeling so bad.
    Kinda crappy.

    Not everyone has the same pain scale as Ron has mentioned before.
    1 persons pain level can be a 5 for them
    and another person with the same pain/issue can be a 10.
    As we all have different pain tolerances. ;)
  • This is an interesting thread.

    Pain is a "perceived" response to something causing it.
    If you have had pain so bad you thought you'd die then I reckon you've been somewhere at the top of the scale (whichever one you use).
    They use 0-4 here in UK. Sits somewhere with the statements above. 4= can't move / talk / too much pain to 0= No pain.

    I get immensely cross with ppl who have clearly never suffered servere, chronic pain. You can tell by their sheer lack of helpful and insightful remarks.

    Chronic in the UK = more than 6 weeks. Quite what/who made that distinction I can't tell you. I have had pain for years. It is suggested that once you get past 3 months the pain signal is hardwired into the brain and signals get mis-fired or wrongly fired to the brain. I suspect there is some truth in this, but is doesn't detract from the simple fact the the individual is in PAIN.
    Pian being is caused by some chemicals in the body.
    If you have support and belief it makes a huge difference to how you personally deal with it. It is afterall, your own private battle.

    Recently, I have doubted my sanity (like we do) constant contstant pain, no relief following surgery (surgically correct now so what is the problem?) and then decided I was simply insane. Turned out I had a very real problem causing my ongoing worse pain. That in itself made me feel human again - knowing that there was a cause.
    I also know that I have struggled with immense pain, but as there was no let up, you adjust the mental attitude, raise the bar and try to get on with it because what else can you do, really?
    You can't give up, you have to find a team of PT, PM and surgeon's & Docs who support you and will help you find a way. You need to want to find a way too.

    I am in awe of my own experience. I just wish there was a way I could help others too. Pian is invisible but validating a person can be so helpful for the sufferer, (even if you are not sure if they are exaggerating) it doesn't matter. What is important is to give them space, time and validity.

  • Hi!Sept 4 2007 (one year ago)I had L2 L3 L4 L5 fusion, one disc above that removed, and a Laminectamy from the C2 till S1.In the entire "back surgery ward' each wall had the same framed picture of 4 variations of the face of the Crying Clown. The last face of the 4 had tears streaming from both eyes, and was titled "unbearable PAIN", next was the same face with tears streaming from one eye only and was titled a"Almost Unbearable PAIN". I cant remember the first two. With in a few hours of waking up I started crying from both eyes.A pure reflex. My whole world was pain, I could not think of anything else. This then would happen at least twice per day usually when I had to get out of bed for the second time...I just could not face the pain. After one week when I got home I would have at least one bout with tears from both eyes. Its like your body has an automated neon sign that says I just cant take this pain. When I finally started going out to the drug store some nice old Lady would take me aside hand me a tissue and polity ask me if I realized I was crying.And no I did not realize I was crying! I am 65 and six feet tall! My shirt would be soaked.
    I hope this helps some of you.
    I pray for less pain for all of you. Eric :H
  • is the dr obligated to treat for chronic pain if the patient shows no physical symptoms? if there are mri's cat scans, nerve conduction tests or discographies done and they show nothing is the dr obligated to treat if all of these show nothing? i believe they are. they have to and should take the patient's word. i don't believe they have to give our narcotics but other meds can be given such as naisd's and nerve meds. i believe that sometimes drs will think this person is not being truthful but to error on the side of caution, they treat them. has anyone had a dr say i don't believe you and "go away i will not treat you?" probably not but by their actions drs will talk and listen but that is all they will do. i wonder if someone has filed a suit against a dr because the dr did not believe the patient.

    I have 4 fusions from L5-3, the latest last May '12 where they fixed my disc that broke.They went through my side this time. I take 40 mg of oxycontin 4x a day and 4 fenatyl lollipops 300 micro gms 4x a day.
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