There are over 50 million U.S. adults and 1.5 billion people globally with chronic pain conditions. 20 million more have high-impact chronic pain, which limits work, social, recreational and self-care activities. (1) Chronic joint and back pain are the top 2 causes of disability in the U.S. (2) and the prevalence is only rising.(2)
A conservative estimate of the annual cost of chronic pain in America is $560-635 billion dollars with $300 billion of that being incremental healthcare costs and the rest, lost productivity in the workplace. Those with moderate pain spend $4,516 more annually than those without pain and those with severe pain spend $3,210 more than those with moderate pain. (1) In 2014, $45 billion was spent on back surgery alone.(3)
Whether it is surgery, injections, pharmacology or physical therapy, randomized, controlled studies show that standard treatments for chronic pain show little to no efficacy, (refs) yet continue to be employed. Studies of standard psychotherapeutic approaches, such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) also show limited to no efficacy for chronic pain. A 2020 Cochrane Review showed that for CBT, the average pain decreased by an equivalent of 0.4 on a 0-10 pain analogue scale and for ACT, by an equivalent of 0. (30)
We must stop treating all pain the same. Cancer pain is not the same as structural pain which is not the same as centralized or neural circuit pain. We don’t treat all cancers the same. Why do we treat all pain the same?
Medical research shows that joint pathology is found in most people who have never had pain. In fact, spine changes on MRI begin in our 20’s and continue over the lifetime, but do not necessarily cause pain. Could many MRI findings reveal normal aging of the spine and joints? Damaged tissue does not necessarily cause pain and pain does not always result from tissue damage. Could there be other causes of pain?
Increasingly, research is showing us that the brain can not only modulate pain, but can actually cause pain and stop pain through the alteration of learned neural circuits.
Is our lack of success in treating chronic pain due to the pain’s intractability or due to our unwillingness to view pain and its treatment through a different lens – a psychosocial lens, instead of a biomedical lens? Are we looking in the wrong place for the answer? Could most chronic pain be caused by learned neural pathways in the brain which, like a light switch, can be dimmed, turned on or turned off, by altering the brain’s neural pathways?
What if psychosocial drivers were the sole cause of the pain or at least, major contributors? Would we, as compassionate healers, be willing to address these issues with our patients? Do we have the knowledge to understand, diagnose and treat these conditions? Do we know how to communicate with our patients about these conditions in ways that are not offensive or demeaning? Do we know how to direct our patients to the appropriate treatment?
OvidDx is the solution for you and your patients. With all training program content based on the latest medical pain research and with multiple peer-reviewed randomized controlled trials showing efficacy for our approach, you will be newly empowered to offer your patients life-transforming help. As healers committed to helping your patients thrive, everyone wins.Learn More
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Bennell, K. L., et al. (2021). “Effect of Intra-articular Platelet-Rich Plasma vs Placebo Injection on Pain and Medial Tibial Cartilage Volume in Patients With Knee Osteoarthritis: The RESTORE Randomized Clinical Trial.” JAMA 326(20): 2021-2030.
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