BALTIMORE, June 14 -- Chronic pain takes a devastating toll on the lives of those who suffer, according to new findings released today by the American Pain Foundation. Results from the Voices of Chronic Pain patient survey reveal that more than half (51%) of chronic pain patients currently using an opioid analgesic agent felt they had little or no control over their pain. This survey is the first of its kind to evaluate the attitudes and impact chronic pain has on patients who have sought care from their physician and are currently using an opioid to treat their pain.
"These results are extremely concerning and paint a stark picture of how significant a public health issue chronic pain has become," said Will Rowe, Executive Director of the American Pain Foundation. "Although medical solutions exist to relieve or ease pain, the reality is that most pain goes untreated, undertreated or improperly treated, with millions of patients suffering in silence."
Alarmingly, six of ten patients (60%) surveyed said they experience breakthrough pain one or more times daily, severely impacting their quality of life and overall well-being. Chronic pain affects approximately 50 million Americans, and untreated pain can impair a person's ability to carry out daily activities, such as relationships, hobbies and work, and can greatly diminish his or her quality of life.
Survey Shows Chronic Pain Greatly Impacts Quality of Life and Overall Well-Being
The Voices of Chronic Pain survey found that as a result of pain, more than three quarters of patients (77%) reported feeling depressed, 70% said they have trouble concentrating, and more than half (52%) said their chronic pain has put a strain on relationships with family and friends. Chronic pain is a major cause of absenteeism and unemployment. In fact, pain results in more than 50 million lost workdays each year and costs the United States an estimated $100 billion in lost productivity and healthcare expenses. According to the survey, nearly 70% of people said their pain has a great deal of impact on their work and half (50%) have lost a job due to their chronic pain.
"People don't seem to understand how debilitating it can be to live with chronic pain. It affects everything I do -- from not sleeping through the night to not being able to work anymore," said Andrea Cooper, who has been living with chronic pain for 30 years. "I may look okay on the outside but I'm screaming on the inside. It's brought so much compromise into my life -- my relationship with my husband, with my kids. It prevents me from doing some of the things I love the most, link singing and playing the guitar and creating artwork."
Survey Reveals Need for New Options to Treat Chronic Pain
The Voices of Chronic Pain Survey also found more than three-quarters (77%) of patients surveyed said they are looking for new options to treat their pain. Only 14% of those surveyed reported that they were satisfied with their current medications and less than half (48%) of respondents felt they were currently getting enough information on the most effective ways to manage chronic pain. While safe and effective medical treatments for many types of pain are available, only an estimated one in four people suffering receives proper treatment.
"I recommend that my chronic pain patients use an opioid to manage their pain. However, patients can respond differently or develop tolerance to a particular treatment, so a new opioid often needs to be prescribed to give patients the pain relief they are seeking," said Scott Fishman, M.D., Chief of the Division of Pain Medicine and Professor of Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine, University of California, Davis. "It is crucial that physicians and patients have several treatment options available to find the right strategy to ensure long-term optimal pain relief."
About Chronic Pain
Chronic pain is pain that continues a month or more beyond the usual recovery period for an injury or illness, or pain that continues for months or years due to a chronic condition. The most common sources of chronic pain are low back problems, arthritis, cancer, repetitive stress injuries, shingles, headaches and fibromyalgia. Other causes include diabetic neuropathy, phantom limb sensation and other neurological conditions. Chronic pain can exist for no apparent cause. Opioid analgesics are a commonly prescribed treatment option that provides proven pain relief for patients who suffer from mild-to-severe chronic pain.
The American Pain Foundation encourages chronic pain patients to talk to their doctor about ways to effectively control their pain to help take back control of their life. For more information about Voices of Chronic Pain survey and chronic pain, log onto http://www.painfoundation.org/.
Voices of Chronic Pain was conducted on the Internet using an online panel of Americans who were screened for having chronic pain and using opioids for the treatment and control of that pain. A total of 303 chronic pain sufferers who take opioids were included in the final sample. Voices of Chronic Pain was administered between May 9 and May 13, 2006. The survey was based on survey panels from Common Knowledge. International Communications Research (ICR) of Media, PA administered the data collection. ICR also conducted the data processing and preparation of statistical tables.
About American Pain Foundation
The American Pain Foundation (APF) is a 501 (c) (3), non-profit organization dedicated to improving the quality of life of people affected by pain. APF accomplishes its mission through numerous efforts providing education and support, advocacy, and promotion of pain research.
The Voices of Chronic Pain survey was funded by Endo Pharmaceuticals.