That Nagging Ache Could Be Chronic

A survey reveals more than 90% of Americans underestimate the severity of chronic pain.

Nearly 70% of Americans report that they, or someone they care for, have experienced pain during the past 30 days, according to a survey released by the American Osteopathic Association (AOA).

Chronic, or reoccurring pain still affects more Americans than cancer, diabetes, and heart disease combined and more than 76 million people live in pain every day.

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, according AOA.

The AOA is launching the “Break Through Your Pain” public education campaign. The campaign is designed to empower people living in pain to get the help and resources they need and focuses on exposing common misperceptions associated with chronic pain.

“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, in a press release. “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.”

The key findings of the survey reveal that most Americans believe the myths 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.

The AOA campaign focuses on empowering individuals to take charge of their health with a couple of simple steps, which include making appointments to speak with physicians about the pain as ignoring the pain may lead to more pain; and following a personalized pain management/treatment plan.

“People shouldn’t suffer from pain in silence,” said Karen J. Nichols, DO, president of the American Osteopathic Association, in a press release. “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.”

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Do you agree with the results of the survey? Do you feel chronic pain is underestimated? Are the misconceptions about pain prevalent?