Education as an intervention for the chronic pain epidemic

A guest column by the American Society of Anesthesiologists, exclusive to

Chronic pain is a silent epidemic

Chronic pain is a significant public health burden, but one that is not talked about enough. In 2011, the Institute of Medicine estimated that approximately 100 million Americans suffer from chronic pain. But chronic pain is not just a national problem. The 2016 World Health Organization (WHO) Global Burden of Disease report named back pain as the leading cause of years lived with disability (YLD), or more simply stated, years not being able to live your best life. Chronic pain is a complex disease requiring access to physicians with the appropriate expertise in assessing and treating pain in a comprehensive interdisciplinary manner. Yet, education in the management of chronic pain is sorely lacking in medical schools, nursing schools, and allied health professional courses. Lack of access to appropriate treatment and expertise leaves patients with an inability to break out of the vicious cycle of increasing pain, functional limitations, physiological changes due to decreased activity and additional pain.

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