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6 Pain Treatment Tips for Physicians, Payers

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, August 31, 2010

Physicians, health payers and policy makers need to do a better job managing pain because 76.5 million Americans—one in four—struggle with pain without appropriate treatment.

That's according to the American Pain Foundation, which has launched a campaign to get rid of what it says are barriers that prevent timely, appropriate and effective care for pain.

"Alleviating pain has always been a basic principle of medicine and a moral obligation in a humane and civilized society," says Will Rowe, CEP of the foundation. "It is a travesty that in this day and age, pain remains woefully undertreated."  Rowe added that societal misconceptions and fears about pain management are fueled by celebrity deaths and unnecessary restrictive regulation, "creating mountainous barriers to access to care."

He also says that "the suffering and toll untreated pain has on our own families and our nation is irrefutable and will continue to skyrocket unless members of the medical community, regulators, legislators, nonprofit, and private sector parties join forces to strategically conquer pain together."

The foundation calls for doctors and other providers of healthcare, as well as health plans or health insurance companies to:

  1. Set up a healthcare team to design individual, comprehensive, multimodal pain management plans for their patients.
  2. Tailor these plans to the individual living in pain. The plans should include pharmacotherapy, psychosocial intervention, physical rehabilitation, integration of complementary and alternative medicine, injection and infusion therapy, implantable devices and surgical intervention.  Appropriate access to controlled substances should be a part of this plan, and should be used according to U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved indications "or other uses justified by research and clinical experience."

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