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The high cost of pain: Medical school dean testifies on problem to U.S. Senate

The high cost of pain: Medical school dean testifies on problem to U.S. Senate

Updated 4:15 pm: In his ongoing effort to push for a public health campaign to battle our country’s pain epidemic, Philip Pizzo, MD, dean of the School of Medicine, traveled to Washington D.C. to speak before the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions today.

During the hearing, Pizzo highlighted the results of last June’s Institute of Medicine Committee report on pain, which concluded that the effective treatment of pain demands a “cultural transformation” on the part of patients, physicians and researchers. Pizzo chaired the committee that issued the report.

The total costs of treating pain are higher than the costs of cancer, cardiovascular diseases and diabetes put together, while the treatments still leave many patients suffering needlessly. In order to battle this epidemic, the government needs to support a public health campaign that includes improving education of providers, patients and communities, Pizzo and his co-authors concluded.

“The magnitude is simply astounding,” Pizzo told the committee. While the report focused on the public health implications of this epidemic and recommendations for change, the authors also understood that “it’s the individual human impact of pain that underscores why this is such an important issue…”

The effect on the individual was brought into stark focus by speaker Christen Veasley, an advocate for pain research who had a near-fatal accident 15 years ago and has suffered from residual back and neck pain ever since.

“For many of us, we wake up and the first thing we feel is pain,” she said. “It feels like you live with a veil over your face. As patients, we’ve been left completely disillusioned… This report has brought us renewed hope.”

Also testifying were John Sarno, MD, professor at New York University School of Medicine and William Maixner, PhD, director of the Center for Neurosensory Disorders at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Previously: A call to fight chronic-pain epidemic and Relieving Pain in America: A new report from the Institute of Medicine

11 Responses to “ The high cost of pain: Medical school dean testifies on problem to U.S. Senate ”

  1. hope frechette Says:

    thank you for your work, i fell years ago and suffer chornic neck and back pain everyday, at times i feel like life isn;t worth liveing. in ct. where i live the treatment of chronic pain is so backwards, many suffer needlessly

  2. Bonny Finnemore Says:

    Having suffered from Fibromyalgia for years, I hope they listened and something good and promising will come from this. NO ONE wants to be in pain suffering 24/7 if at all. I can’t recall a time when I wasn’t in pain. Some days it hurts to wear clothing as it feels like sandpaper on my skin. It hurts to be hugged or hold hands with my husband. Feeling like my legs are shattered because the pain is THAT intense. Years of drs, specialists, therapies and medications sadly have not provided one ounce of relief and many times I was told by the medical profession it was “all in my head” or I just had to “learn to live with it.” How does one EVER learn to live with chronic pain let alone the multitude of symptoms that goes along with it like sleep deprivation, chronic headaches, memory impairment, and dozens more?

  3. david Says:

    I dont fdind Dr Pizzos testimony credit for his colleagues in medicine refuse to receive education in pain care- and Dr Pizzo in the IOm report on pain failed to call for laws requiring doctors to have education in pain care. His vision of doctors volunteering to improve pain care is silly and counterproductive
    As Einstein said you cant solve a problem with the same consciopusness that created ti- for Senator Harkin to exclude the testimony of the biggest stakeholders- those in pain- suggests he doesnt take the issue seriously- but of course Senator Harkin has no bill in Congress to improve pain care. The Senator acts as if he was unaware of pain being a problem in America before the IOM wrote their report- he is woefully out of touch with the sorry state of affairs in pain care-and he doesnt care enough about peoples suffering to create an inspiring vision or energetic plan to improve pain care- but what else is new on Capital Hill

  4. Y. Alleg Says:

    If you have ongoing pain problems which haven’t been solved in spite of different treatments consider the books of John Sarno, MD and others.

  5. Doc ForthePeople Says:

    No one except pain sufferers seem to realize that people in pain fall and suffer more injuries than people without pain. The cost of these injuries that are consequential to the pain is never included in any of these discussions. It is a hidden epidemic within a silent epidemic. The medical profession treats pain today based on fear of regulatory retaliation rather than open and honest scientific and compassionate assessment of the problem!

  6. david Says:

    To say pain is a hidden epidemic- with 116 million people suffering pain is absurd. The medical profession has long neglected people in pain and there are many reports of doctors verbally mistreating and medically mistreating people in pain. Medicine likes to blame the DEA for the sorry state of affairs in pain care- but most of the blame is with doctors for failing to take the suffering of others seriously.

  7. Janelle Says:

    What was the deal with Harkin and his anecdotal evidence and creepy, happy smile? He basically said, “Well, pain IS in all your heads! I have anecdotal evidence that you can’t really confirm nor deny that says if you just tell yourself it’s not cancer, you won’t hurt anymore.” And the way he phrased his story… it really does sound made up. It lacked coherence, and it mainly centered around, “I, too, felt ‘pain’ when I had to work hard. But I learned to suck it up and get back to work!” I can’t help wondering if he was paid off to sell that book and CD.

  8. Danilo Teodoro Says:

    What’s the use, seem to me you don’t like what I say

  9. Danilo Teodoro Says:

    Do the Scientist and Doctors are really serching to find answers and treatment or therapy for those with chronic pain?Just asking, because some times when I Post comment, words appeared on monitor that they are not interested in treatment, but they are studying the effect of it. I don’t know what. If you are really looking for, why don’t you researched about sliding deep tissue massage. You maybe surprised what you’ll find. As I said I solved the pain problem of all my clients for the last 20 yrs or you just want to put chronic pain sufferer in piankillers or opiods or whatever is

  10. david Says:

    Dr Sarno is no visionary- im surprised he was asked to trestify as he doesnt strike me as knowing much about the great variety of pain conditions that people suffer. Perhaps Congress asked him to testify because they dont want to see changes in the sorry state of affiars in pain management. Anyway Dr Sarno is a doctor- and medicine is a profession that has shown its inhumanity to people in pain for a century- so why trust a doctor when it comes to improving pain care?

  11. Jay20 Says:

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    Carl Balog


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