CDC, New England Journal of Medicine Weigh in on Chronic Pain

Chronic pain has been the subject of several recent sources of information, such as the proposed opioid guidelines released recently by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and an article published in the November 26th edition New England Journal of Medicine stating that pain relief should not be the primary goal of doctors who treat those suffering from chronic pain. Instead, the article recommends that patients learn to accept their pain and move on with their lives.

If you are a chronic pain sufferer, particularly someone dealing with complex regional pain syndrome/reflex sympathetic dystrophy (CRPS/RSD), you may find several things wrong with this ideology, such as:

  • A large amount of research has shown that pain left untreated or under-treated affects the overall quality of life of the sufferer, and may even be slowly killing them in a variety of ways.
  • Chronic pain causes depression, anxiety, and even suicidal thoughts.
  • Much comorbidity accompanies chronic pain, including hormonal and metabolic imbalance, compromised immune function, skin rashes, ulcers, incontinence, and high blood pressure.
  • Unrelieved chronic pain can permanently change the brain and nervous system, preventing the brain from fully resting and developing new cells to repair brain damage.
  • Research has also shown that the brains of pain patients can deteriorate over the course of a year at the rate that would take a healthy person’s brain 10-20 years. Cerebral atrophy can cause seizures and dementia, both preventable in pain patients who are given adequate pain care.

Although opioid misuse is not epidemic in the U.S., not even falling within the top 20 causes of death, chronic pain may be considered pandemicChronic pain affects more than 1.5 billion people worldwide, or 25.3 million people in the U.S., according to Medical Daily. 

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