Pain affects more people than heart disease, diabetes, and cancer combined International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP)
If you do not believe this statement then let me remind you of some common scenes from your daily life. You may have stopped noticing these believing that nothing can be done or accepted them as a part of aging. BUT IS THAT SO?
…remember the grandma who grunts in pain every time she tries to get up
…. the husband who complains of a backache every morning, taking his time to overcome the stiffness before he can start his day
….aunt who finds it difficult to get out of the car because of pain
….your colleague who has to randomly take time off work because of severe headaches
…your work colleague who keeps pressing his neck complaining of neck pain
….your friend who gave up badminton because of shoulder pain
….diabetic uncle who cannot sleep as he feels his feet are on fire
….your close friend who underwent breast surgery a few years back and still complains of pain
Do these sound familiar… and I have not even talked about the numerous patients with sciatica, tennis elbow, heel pain, abdominal pain, cancer pain, pelvic pain, testicular pain, chest-wall pain, post-traumatic pain, nerve injury pain, etc. The list is endless. The financial burden of these problems on individuals, families, society, and government is enormous.
Yes, these are all examples of chronic pain
Yes, these are challenging to treat because pain is a very personal experience and one therapy does not work for all.
BUT YES…. there are options that can improve your quality of life significantly.
After all, quality of life is important for everyone. For someone, it may all be about being able to play a few rounds of golf and for someone to attend an important meeting at work without being distracted by pain. Your goals are your goals and they are important.
Chronic pain is a frequent condition affecting an estimated 20% of people worldwide. Globally 1 in 10 adults is diagnosed with chronic pain each year. Despite this, not many are aware of the available pain management options. The general perception is that pain management is for cancer pain. Even for the majority of well-informed people, it stops at a few nerve blocks for relieving pain in cancer or trigeminal neuralgia.
In India, there is huge variability in the services offered by the existing pain clinics. Lack of recognized comprehensive training curriculum in pain medicine with government-approved minimal training standards may be one of the contributing factors. The focus of most specialists is on interventions rather than holistic management. This is contrary to most western countries where Pain Medicine is a separate specialty with a well-defined curriculum and minimum standards that must be fulfilled for one to proclaim himself as a pain specialist. The focus there is on long term solutions using multidisciplinary approach and teamwork. Nevertheless, the awareness for chronic pain options is increasing with an important role being played by the media. I hope that the benefits do not get restricted to a privileged few and all fellow brothers and sisters are able to benefit.
Dr. Amod Manocha is a Senior Consultant and Head of Pain Management Services at Max Multispecialty Hospital, Saket. He is trained as a Pain Management Specialist and an Anaesthetist in the UK. He has over 13 years of work experience in the UK including working as a Chronic Pain Consultant in many UK hospitals.