American Osteopathic Association

Advancing the distinctive philosophy and practice of osteopathic medicine

New Survey Finds 85% of Washingtonians are Living With Pain; Nearly Half Believe Pain is Just a Part of Life

May 10, 2011           

American Osteopathic Association Offers Expert Advice to Help Washingtonians Better Manage Their Pain

(CHICAGO) – Washingtonians living with pain are not alone. According to a new survey released today by the American Osteopathic Association (AOA), nearly 85% of Washington residents say they, or someone they care for, have experienced pain in the past 30 days. With more than 76 million Americans living with pain every day*, chronic or reoccurring pain affects more Americans than cancer, diabetes and heart disease combined.

The AOA survey also reveals 85% of people in Washington underestimate the severity and prevalence of chronic pain, underscoring the need for consumer education to dispel the common myths associated with chronic pain. In response, the AOA, which represents the nation’s more than 70,000 osteopathic physicians (DOs), launched the “Break Through Your Pain” public education campaign to raise awareness about the safe and effective treatment options available and to empower Washingtonians living with pain to get the help they need.

“Chronic pain is a significant public health issue. While the negative impact of living with pain starts with the individual experiencing pain, it also affects the entire family unit,” said Daniel E. Wolf, DO, an AOA board-certified psychiatrist in private practice in Seattle. “There is no ‘one size fits all’ treatment for pain, but starting an open discussion with your physician is the right first step. From there, you can work with your physician to develop an individualized treatment approach with the goal of putting an end to the cycle of pain and suffering.”

Busting the Myths Associated with Pain 

The AOA survey found that most Washingtonians believe the common myths associated with pain and then proceed to ignore, downplay or under-treat their own chronic pain:

  • Nearly half (47%) of Washington residents mistakenly believe pain is just a part of life.

  • Nearly four out of 10 (35%) do not believe pain is something that can be eased with proper treatment.

  • Less than half (45%) would speak to a specialist if they experience chronic pain.

  • One in three (31%) would not speak to a medical professional about their pain for fear they could not afford treatment.

  • More than two out of five (41%) fear prescription pain relief medications are easily addictive.

  • On average, it took Washingtonians who sought treatment for their pain an estimated five weeks to find a physician to help manage their pain; 25% have not found a physician to help them.

Taking Action to “Break Through Your Pain”

Chronic pain comes in many different forms and affects many parts of the body (i.e. back, knees, neck, legs, head, feet and arms). Just as there are multiple types of chronic pain, there are a wide variety of treatment options, ranging from medication to hands-on techniques.

Effective treatment requires an individualized pain management program created through patient and physician collaboration. The AOA “Break Through Your Pain” campaign aims to empower Washingtonians to take charge of their health, starting with a few simple steps:

  1.  Visit the AOA website and take advantage of new pain assessment tools that can help you describe and track your pain. The Living With Pain? Quiz and Break Through The Pain! Assessment Tool/Patient Journal are both available at

  2. Make an appointment to speak with your physician about your pain – ignoring or under-treating your pain can lead to more pain – creating a debilitating cycle.

  3. Work with your physician to design an individualized treatment plan that meets your needs – managing chronic pain is not a “one size fits all” diagnosis.

  4. Follow your personalized pain management/treatment plan – sticking to a treatment plan will pay off in the long-run.

“Now more than ever, it’s important for Washingtonians to take the first step to managing their pain by starting a dialogue with their physician and creating a plan to address their specific issues,” said Karen J. Nichols, DO, president of the American Osteopathic Association. “With one-quarter of Washington residents reporting they have not found a physician to help manage their pain, we are advocating for better access to treatment in the state and encouraging patients to seek help from an osteopathic physician. DOs are trained to treat the whole person and work with patients to determine which treatment options will best address their patients’ pain as well as help them track their progress over time.”

For more information and to download pain management tools from the AOA “Break Through Your Pain” Campaign, visit

About the American Osteopathic Association

The American Osteopathic Association (AOA) proudly represents its professional family of more than 70,000 osteopathic physicians (DOs); promotes public health; encourages scientific research; serves as the primary certifying body for DOs; is the accrediting agency for osteopathic medical schools; and has federal authority to accredit hospitals and other health care facilities. More information on DOs/osteopathic medicine can be found at  


Media Contacts:

Nicole Grady
(312) 202-8038

Valerie Patmintra
(703) 739-8344
*National Center for Health Statistics. Health, United States, 2006 With Chartbook on Trends in the Health of Americans. Hyattsville, MD: 68-71