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Understanding the Complex Disease of Chronic Pain

Affecting nearly 100 million Americans, according to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academics, 1 in 3 people live with pain. This statistic does not include children living with pain. The misunderstood, complex disease costs the nation up to $635 billion each year in medical treatments, disability payments and lost productivity. Despite the vast number of people living with pain, many within the pain population feel unheard and isolated. In fact, chronic pain is still widely underfunded, misunderstood and undertreated.

Chronic pain persists, whereas acute pain is a normal sensation that is triggered in the nervous system to alert you of a possible injury. For those whose body is riddled with chronic pain, their pain signals are continuously firing in the nervous system for weeks, months, even years. For some pain warriors, their discomfort began after a mishap such as an injury or infection. Others experience chronic pain without past injury and may have underlying genetic causes to their pain condition.

Pain affects more Americans than cancer, heart disease and diabetes combined. Perception of pain by an individual is highly complex and individualized, and is subject to a variety of external and internal influences. When assessing and treating chronic pain, it can be a difficult and trying process for the patient.

Pain is a subjective experience and its intensity and affects varies from person to person. The individual with the invisible illness is the most reliable source of information when it comes to the onset, location, intensity, triggers and measures that can bring relief.

Each person’s pain journey is unique in that their reaction and body’s response to pain can be impacted by outside influences including previous experiences with pain, state of health and the presence of fatigue or physical weakness. Due to each individual’s unique chemical makeup and experience with pain, each treatment plan will differ.