American Society of Anesthesiologists Urges Americans to Fight Back Against Pain

December 16, 2009

Whether the result of injury, illness or a chronic condition, 70 million Americans experience pain annually. The individual pain sufferer may experience a diminished quality of life, lack of mobility and added stress. For the country as a whole, pain has far-reaching cost implications. It is estimated that more than 140 million work days are lost because of back pain. (1,2) As a result of chronic pain and the loss in productivity that it causes, approximately $60-100 billion is wasted each year. (3)

To help fight this debilitating condition and combat its detrimental impact, the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) is offering practical ways for sufferers to take an active role in the treatment of pain. The ASA wants to ensure patients are informed about their treatment options and is offering a series of tips to empower the patient as he/she works with a physician to treat the pain.

Anesthesiologists are pain medicine specialists with extensive experience diagnosing and treating both acute and chronic pain conditions such as arthritis, back and neck pain, cancer pain, nerve pain, migraine headaches, shingles and pain caused by AIDS.

“Thanks to significant medical advances, illnesses such as cancer and HIV are increasingly becoming chronic conditions rather than terminal illnesses,” said Doris K. Cope, M.D., member of the American Society of Anesthesiologists’ Committee on Pain Medicine, Professor and Vice Chairman for Pain Medicine in the Department of Anesthesiology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and Director of the Interprofessional Program on Pain Research, Education and Health Care, University of Pittsburgh Schools of Health Sciences. “Pain is an extremely complex condition – affecting all types of people both physically and psychologically. However, many people suffer needlessly because, in most cases, pain can be treated by an anesthesiologist specializing in pain medicine.”

Patients experience various types of pain, including:

* Acute pain – Acute pain is experienced as a result of injury or surgery, and can be appropriately treated with the help of an anesthesiologist.
* Chronic pain – Chronic pain occurs when a person experiences pain for three months or more. It affects nearly 130 million Americans and does not target a specific age, race or sex.
* Cancer pain – While novel cancer treatments have greatly improved survival rates in recent years, approximately one-third of adult cancer patients actively receiving treatment experience pain. (4) Anesthesiologists can help these patients better manage their pain while undergoing treatment. More…