In the past few days, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) came out with a report stating that approximately 116 million Americans suffer from chronic pain. The estimated cost to treatment of their pain is around $600 million per year! That represents about of third of all United States citizens living with pain. That's astonishing!
The recommendations by the IOM actually talk about prevention of disease and pain. This is a very different approach than our current system of disease management. While this is a good first indicator that preventative measures beginning to gain steam, it is a far stretch from where we need to be as a society.
The recommendations are that primary care doctors need to be in charge of managing their patients' pain and specialists should only be referred to in "complex cases." While this sounds like a grand idea, a major problem exists. Medical school and residency for PCPs teach very little about disease prevention in regards to musculoskeletal pain (one of the major contributors to chronic pain). While medical doctors are great at recognizing illness and disease, there is almost no emphasis in allopathic medicine in preventing pain in these types of cases.
As a chiropractor, I am consistantly talking to patients about things they can do to stay healthy and prevent disease. One of the foundations of chiropractic is disease prevention. Unfortunately, I think that placing care of chronic musculoskeletal-driven pain patients in the hands of many PCPs would only result in those patients receiving prescriptions for medications to deal with their pain. While some patients do indeed need medicine, many times they need other forms of care to actually rid themselves of the causitive factors leading to the pain.
I feel that chronic pain generated by issues dealing with the musculoskeletal system, such as back pain, is best managed by physical medicine practitioners. Included in this group would be chiropractors, physical therapists, naprapaths and massage therapists. Once the pain-generating problems are address, these patients can lead a much healthier, pain-free lives.
For more on the IOM report, follow this link: www.healinghandsofskokie.com/chronic-pain-in-america.html.
If you have any questions about this topic, feel free to call our office at (847) 673-6600 or visit us on the web at www.HealingHandsOfSkokie.com!