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Chronic Pain Part of Life for Many Americans, Survey Finds

Experts call this a serious, unaddressed public health issue

TUESDAY, Oct. 12, 2010 (HealthDay News) -- Nearly 70 percent of Americans say that they or someone they care for experienced pain in the previous 30 days, a recent survey shows.

Release of the American Osteopathic Association (AOA) poll is part of its public education campaign to encourage people with chronic pain to seek help and resources.

More than 76 million Americans live with pain every day, and chronic pain affects more Americans than cancer, diabetes and heart disease combined, according to the group.

"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," Dr. Robert I. Danoff, of Aria Health System in Philadelphia, said in an AOA news release.

"It is important for physicians and their patients to work together to address the issue of pain."

Among the other survey findings:

  • 48 percent of respondents don't believe that proper treatment can ease chronic pain.
  • 41 percent believe pain is a normal part of aging, and 10 percent simply ignore the pain.
  • 36 percent would refuse doctor-recommended or doctor-prescribed pain medication for fear of becoming addicted.
  • 34 percent believe pain medications that cause side effects are worse than pain itself.
  • 31 percent would not speak to a doctor about their pain for fear they could not afford treatment.
  • Only 18 percent would speak to a specialist if they were suffering chronic pain.

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about chronic pain.

SOURCE: American Osteopathic Association, news release, Oct. 6, 2010
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