(CHICAGO) – New research released today finds that pain affects the majority of Massachusetts residents, yet most underestimate its severity and the need for effective treatment. The survey by the American Osteopathic Association (AOA) uncovered that at least one in two Massachusetts residents believe pain is just a part of life, and one in three don’t believe it can be eased with proper treatment. These misperceptions lead people to ignore or undertreat their pain, which can cause more pain — creating a debilitating cycle.
The AOA survey shows that 80% of Massachusetts residents say they, or someone they care for, have experienced pain in the past month. And pain sufferers in Massachusetts are not alone. More than 76 million Americans in the United States live with pain every day — affecting more people than cancer, diabetes and heart disease combined.
With a clear need to educate consumers about chronic pain and safe and effective treatment options, today the AOA launches the "Break Through Your Pain" public education campaign in Massachusetts. Representing more than 78,000 osteopathic physicians (DOs) in the United States, the AOA hopes to provide those living with pain with the knowledge and resources they need to better manage their pain.
"Chronic pain can impact every aspect of a person’s daily quality of life, altering their mood, attitude and work productivity. Instead of suffering in silence, people living with pain can be empowered to take the first step to finding relief," said Pamela L. Grimaldi, DO, an AOA board-certified family physician and assistant professor at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester. "Every person's pain is different. The best way to manage your chronic pain starts by finding a physician you can partner with to develop a personalized plan and explore a range of treatment options, such as medications, lifestyle changes and hands-on therapies."
The Truth About Chronic Pain
Chronic pain, or pain experienced for more than three months, can impact people of all ages and affect many different parts of the body, including the back, knees, neck, legs, feet and arms. Pain in any body part should not be ignored because it can actually lead to more pain. Yet, the AOA survey found that only 34% of Massachusetts residents would speak to a specialist if experiencing chronic pain.
Often people living with pain delay treatment because they believe common myths associated with pain management. The AOA survey uncovered the following perceptions by Massachusetts residents:
One in six believe they cannot afford pain treatment
Nearly one in two fear prescription pain medications are easily addictive
Two in five believe medications come with side effects that are worse than the pain itself
Steps to "Break Through Your Pain"
It takes Massachusetts residents an average of six weeks before they are able to find the help needed to manage their pain. Since there is not a "one size fits all" diagnosis, effective treatment requires collaboration between a patient and physician through an individualized pain management program that can be adjusted over time based on the patient's progress.
The AOA campaign aims to empower people from Massachusetts to take charge of their pain with four simple steps:
Visit the AOA website and take advantage of pain assessment tools that can help you describe and track your pain. The Living With Pain? Quiz and Break Through Your Pain! Assessment Tool are both available at www.osteopathic.org/pain.
Schedule an appointment with a physician to discuss your pain and treatment options.
Work with a physician to design an individualized treatment plan that meets your needs.
Follow your personalized pain management plan and track your progress, adjusting treatment techniques accordingly.
"At a time when Massachusetts is evaluating health policies, we call on legislators and physicians to work together to ensure the best access to care for patients experiencing chronic pain," said AOA President Martin S. Levine, DO. "People living with pain should consider working with one of the more than 800 DOs in Massachusetts to develop an individualized pain management plan. Osteopathic physicians are trained to treat the whole person and work with patients to find treatment options that work best for them."
To find more information and download online pain management tools from the AOA "Break Through Your Pain" campaign, visit www.osteopathic.org/pain.
About the American Osteopathic Association
The American Osteopathic Association (AOA) proudly represents its professional family of more than 78,000 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 www.osteopathic.org.
 National Center for Health Statistics. Health, United States, 2006 With Chartbook on Trends in the Health of Americans. Hyattsville, MD: 68-71.