In a recent article in USA Today, Dr. Kevin Pho addresses the increasingly large pain epidemic. Citing a report from the Institute of Medicine, Pho notes that 116 million Americans suffer from chronic pain, requiring $635 billion in treatment costs, affecting more people than those with cancer, diabetes and heart disease combined.
Pain is a daily issue for patients and doctors. In the article Dr. Pho calls out medical schools for only having 5 of 133 institutions requiring any pain management courses, which translates into a lot of primary care/internal medicine doctors dealing with pain without first having any formal training. Newsweek published a peer-reviewed study in 2007 stating that 40% of patients seek medical attention because of pain. Of those, 43% will become chronic. If this is true, with 4 out of 10 patients walking in to their Dr’s office complaining of pain, better diagnosis and treatment are needed.
I agree with Kevin Pho. There needs to be regulation of highly addictive pain medicine and required pain management education for all physicians. But more importantly, there needs to be a reformation in how physicians are localizing the source of a patients’ pain, and what options for treatment they are providing them. For instance, most physicians prescribe EMG or MRI as a first line of diagnostics for pain, but neither test can pinpoint anything regarding sensory pain fibers, the ‘anatomical billboards’ for where pain is coming from.
The only FDA approved device that can do this on the market is the PAIN NCS (Axon II). A device like the Axon II takes 15 minutes to pinpoint nerve pathology, locate specific nerves involved with chronic pain as well as nerves associated with Fibromyalgia pain. It’s a test so easy to perform, it could, and should, be a standard piece of equipment in every physicians office.
With regard to prescribing treatment, there are options. Prescribing Opioid is usually the first course of action because of usually quick acting results. A lot of physicians are now using Electrical Stimulation, a non-drug approach, as a front-line approach to pain management. The HakoMed ProElecDT 2000 uses patented Horizontal Therapy to provide patients with pain relief from arthritis, chronic pain and acute inflammation. It only takes 5 minutes for the physician to set up a patient and runs for 50 minutes. Studies have shown an immediate decrease in pain within the first treatment for over 25% of patients.
With devices like the Axon II and the HakoMed ProElecDT 2000, doctors should be taking the responsibility of not only increasing their pain management education, but also increasing their diagnostic and treatment capabilities. When 40% of your daily visits relate to pain, primary care and internal medicine unavoidably become pain management as well.
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