Pain Management a Real Problem in the US

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Pain management can be a real problem. Millions of Americans suffer from pain that has to be managed with drugs, whether it’s pain caused by an acute illness or accident or chronic pain. The numbers can be staggering, as it’s estimated that one in every four people has suffered from pain that lasts more than 24 hours, and millions more suffer from acute pain that may only last a short time. The biggest problem that doctors and patients face is trying to manage that pain without causing other problems such as drug dependence.

More than 5,000 visits a day to the emergency room are attributed to drug abuse, and more and more, that drug abuse is the prescription kind. Abuse of prescription pain killers has skyrocketed over the past few years largely due to the lax prescribing behaviors of doctors. Family practice doctors and others without the expertise and knowledge of pain medications often prescribe them to their patients for relatively minor complaints. This can make it easy for people to become addicted to these powerful medicines. Doctors without experience and expertise in pain medicines can compound the problem by prescribing medicines to patients who may not need them. There is a real problem with patients going “doctor shopping,” by visiting several doctors and making different complaints to try to get prescribed pain pills.

To try to solve this problem, it is best to leave pain management in the hands of a pain management specialist. Those who truly have chronic pain should see a pain management doctor rather than a family practice physician. And family practice doctors who encounter such patients should send them to a specialist rather than just sending them on their way with a bottle of pain pills.

Another big problem when it comes to pain management is people trying to deal with it themselves. Those who can’t afford doctor visits or who may be ashamed of their condition may try to self medicate using alcohol or illegal drugs. Alcohol, rather than illegal drugs or prescription pain medication, is the top drug problem in the U.S., and while drinking to excess may help dull pain, it causes many other problems.

To manage pain properly, people need to get an accurate diagnosis of what the problem is and then work with a specialist to get the best possible course of treatment, which may or may not involve prescription painkillers.

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