National Pain Strategy For NIH and Federal Agencies Calls Chronic Pain a Disease


Founder of Health Rising and Phoenix Rising
Staff member
A federal followup to a 2011 IOM report on chronic pain states chronic pain can be a disease and should be studied as such. Until now chronic pain has been considered a byproduct of a disease and is studied as such. That has left the pain field fragmented. THe NIH only even began following funding on pain research a year or two ago.
  • The public at large and people with pain, in particular, would benefit from a better understanding of pain and its treatment, in order to encourage timely care, improve medical management, and combat stigma.
  • Increased scientific knowledge regarding the pathophysiology of pain has led to the conclusion that chronic pain can be a disease in itself that requires adequate treatment and a research commitment.
  • Although pain is widespread in the population, data are lacking on the prevalence, onset, course, impact, and outcomes of most common chronic pain conditions. The greatest individual and societal benefit nevertheless would accrue from a focus on chronic pain.
  • Every effort should be made to prevent illnesses and injuries that lead to pain, the progression of acute pain to a chronic condition, and the development of high-impact chronic pain.
  • Significant improvements are needed in pain assessment techniques and practices to assure they are high-quality and comprehensive.
  • Self-management programs can improve quality of life and is an important component of acute and chronic pain prevention and management
  • Chronic pain is a biopsychosocial condition that often requires integrated, multimodal, and interdisciplinary treatment, all components of which should be evidence-based.
  • People with chronic pain need greater access to treatments that take into account their preferences and are in accord with best evidence on safety and effectiveness.
  • New treatment approaches need to be developed that take into account individual differences that affect the onset of pain and response to treatment.
  • Treatments that are ineffective, whose risks greatly exceed their benefits, or that may cause harm for certain subgroups need to be identified and their use curtailed or discontinued.
  • Much of the responsibility for front-line pain care rests on primary care clinicians, who are not sufficiently trained in pain assessment and comprehensive, evidence-based treatment approaches.
  • Greater collaboration is needed between primary care clinicians and pain specialists in different clinical disciplines and settings, including multispecialty pain clinics.
  • Significant barriers to pain care exist, especially for populations disproportionately affected by and undertreated for pain, and need to be overcome.
  • People with pain are too often stigmatized in the health care system and in society

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