CHICAGO, Oct. 6 /PRNewswire/ -- If you're living in pain, you're certainly not alone. According to a new survey released today by the American Osteopathic Association (AOA) nearly 70% of Americans report that they, or someone they care for, have experienced pain during the past 30 days. While Congress declared 2000 to 2010 the "Decade of Pain Control and Research," chronic, or reoccurring pain still affects more Americans than cancer, diabetes and heart disease combined. In fact, more than 76 million people live in pain every day. (1)
With more than 90% of Americans underestimating the severity and prevalence of chronic pain, the AOA survey underscores the need for consumer education on safe, effective treatment options. Today, the AOA launches the "Break Through Your Pain" public education campaign. By exposing common misperceptions associated with chronic pain, the campaign is designed to empower people living in pain to get the help and resources they need.
"Chronic pain is a very serious and unaddressed public health issue, and many people are reluctant to speak to their physician for fear of feeling hopeless, or simply not knowing how to initiate the conversation," said Robert I. Danoff, DO, an AOA board-certified family physician with Aria Health System in Philadelphia. "It is important for physicians and their patients to work together to address the issue of pain. We want to shift from the 'decade of pain' to the 'decade of healing' by creating the right plan for the right patient at the right time."
Busting the Myths Associated with Pain
The AOA survey found that most Americans believe the myths that are associated with pain and then go on to ignore, downplay or under-treat their own chronic pain:
- Nearly half (48%) of Americans don't believe pain is something that can be eased with proper treatment.
- Two in five (41%) Americans believe pain is just a standard part of the aging process, while one out of 10 people would simply ignore the pain.
- Nearly two in five (36%) Americans would refuse physician-recommended or prescribed pain medication for fear of becoming addicted.
- One in three (34%) Americans believe pain medications that come with side effects are worse than the pain itself.
- One in three (31%) Americans would not even speak to a medical professional about their pain for fear they could not afford treatment.
- Only one in five Americans (18%) would speak to a specialist if experiencing chronic pain.
Taking Action to "Break Through Your Pain"
Chronic pain comes in many different forms and affects many parts of the body (i.e. back, knees, neck, legs, head, feet and arms). Just as there are multiple types of chronic pain, there are a wide variety of treatment options from medication to hands-on techniques. Effective pain treatment requires an individualized pain management program created through patient and physician collaboration. The AOA campaign focuses on empowering individuals to take charge of their health with a couple of simple steps:
- Visit the AOA website and take advantage of new pain assessment tools that can help you describe and track your pain –
- Living in Pain? Quiz and Break Through The Pain! Assessment Tool/Patient Journal available at www.osteopathic.org
- Make an appointment to speak with your physician about your pain – remember, ignoring or under-treating your pain can lead to more pain – creating a debilitating cycle.
- Work with your physician to come up with an individualized treatment plan that meets your needs – managing chronic pain is not a "one size fits all" diagnosis.
- Follow your personalized pain management/treatment plan – sticking to a treatment plan will pay off in the long-run.
"People shouldn't suffer from pain in silence. Finding a physician who will take the time to listen and create a plan that works for your specific issue is an essential first step for breaking through your pain," said Karen J. Nichols, DO, president of the American Osteopathic Association. "Osteopathic physicians (DOs) are trained to treat the whole person and are skilled at working with patients to develop individualized pain management plans. DOs work with patients to determine what regimen will work best, offer guidance in terms of treatment options and track their progress over time."
For more information and to download pain management tools from the AOA "Break Through Your Pain" Campaign, please visit www.osteopathic.org.
(1) National Center for Health Statistics. Health, United States, 2006 With Chartbook on Trends in the Health of Americans. Hyattsville, MD: 68-71
About the American Osteopathic Association
The American Osteopathic Association (AOA) proudly represents its professional family of more than 70,000 osteopathic physicians (DOs); promotes public health; encourages scientific research; serves as the primary certifying body for DOs; is the accrediting agency for osteopathic medical schools; and has federal authority to accredit hospitals and other health care facilities. More information on DOs/osteopathic medicine can be found at www.osteopathic.org.
SOURCE American Osteopathic Association