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Is this something we should talk about?

September is a busy month. The holidays have come to an end and everyone is getting back to work. That means a lot of catching up to do as you get back into the rhythm of life. But, for an increasingly large percentage of the U.S. population, work is just one more battleground where they have to fight pain. And when they do find the time to go see their local health provider, they are faced by an authority figure under time pressure to get them into and out of the room as fast as possible. Summoning the courage to sit there and describe the extent of their pain takes courage.

Which all neatly bring us to the launch of http://www.letstalkpain.org/. This new site brings a number of different groups together. It helpfully includes people who suffer the pain, their caregivers and the healthcare professionals whose job it is to offer care and treatment. Their purpose is to improve everyone’s understanding of what pain management is and how it can help. The founding members are the American Pain Foundation, American Academy of Pain Management, and American Society for Pain Management Nursing. This coalition of the willing is sponsored by PriCara®, Division of Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals.

All the best research shows the physicians at the sharp end in general practice no longer have the time to do a better job of listening to their patients. Worse, many of them have no special training in pain management. The basic approach drilled into them in Med School is to hear the complaints and then prescribe the ultram. Unless and until a physician has personal experience of pain, there is little understanding of the collateral damage to work and family as pain increases in intensity. Thus, instead of treating the whole person in a social context, help is restricted to treatment of pain as a symptom.

There needs to be education both of the professionals and for the patients so that the general standard of care can improve. Although this is a broad purpose for what is currently a small site, we should not be critical of its ambition. The treatment of pain today is over-reliant on ultram and other painkillers. If this site can bring a better balance to healthcare professionals’ approach to pain management, all will benefit.

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