Chronic Unremitting Pain Information Resources
to relieve pain is tantamount to moral and legal malpractice." - Edmund
D. Pellegrino MD
"A drug addict wants to escape life; a pain patient wants to live it." - Melissa Kaplan
Compiled by Melissa Kaplan
Pain Association's Definition of Intractable Pain
Tennant, MD, Dr.P.H.
un re mit ting
Chronic, unremitting, persistant, pain is common to many physicial and neurological disorders. The failure to adequately treat pain in the US is a travesty that can no longer be allowed to continue.
The way the medical profession has historically addressed pain is to teach the patient to "manage" it. Get used to it. Learn coping skills. Deal with it. Shut up and go away. The fact that any chronic illness, especially those that involve chronic pain and the the long-term loss of one's livelihood and the cessasion of life as one knew it, understandably may cause secondary depression is ignored. Instead, too many doctors and health care professionals leap on the depression itself as if that were the cause, rather than a secondary effect of the underlying medical condition. Thus, the medical profession enabling themselves to place the blame squarely on the patient for not getting better, rather than looking to the medical profession's antiquated, inadequate and all too often ignorant practices.
Compounding the problem is the "war on drugs." Our society has become so paranoid about the evils of drug addition that it has lost sight of the fact that people are suffering intense, mind-numbing pain each and every day of their lives because their doctors refuses to prescribe adequate levels of medication for them. Why? Because they don't want the Drug Enforcement Agency breathing down their necks. Why is the DEA getting involved? Because they don't want doctors "making" drug addicts. If we really wanted to legislate against addictive substances that ruin lives, why not go after alcohol? According to a 1995 report of the NIH's National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 1 out of every 13 adults in the US abuses alcohol or is alcohol dependent. Dr. George Hansen wrote a letter protesting the JCAHO's new criteria for hospital facilities evaluation and treatment of acute and chronic pain (Assessment and Management of Pain, George Hansen, MD, JAMA November 8, 2000, Vol 284, No 18). In it he states that in the U.S. there is a 13.7% prevalence towards alcoholism/alcohol abuse, and 7.5% prevalence of "illicit drug dependence." Thus, he contents, it is better to undertreat the estimated 50 million people with chronic, often life-altering chronic debilitating pain rather than risk any of them becoming dependent on drugs...despite the fact that research indicates that addition is rare in chronic, intractable pain patients, even when the actual cause of the pain is not known. Funny how none of these doctors who continue to preach against evils of drugs fail to come out against the widespread availability of beer, wine and spirits...
I used to audit drug claims for one of the country's largest third-party claims administrators, with part of my job being to identify possible cases of drug abuse by our clients' employees. While there were a few cases of abuse, most payments were allowed through once we researched the patient's medical history. The continuing restrictive clinical practices are simply not justified in the face of documented medical history of most chronic pain patients. Yes, some patients can be helped by stepping them down on medications and teaching coping and lifestyle skills. But that is a pitiful minority when compared to the thousands of men, women and children whose lives are made a living hell from inadequately treated pain.
This page is the start of a collection of articles and resources dealing with chronic unremitting pain. There being plenty of IAIYH ("it's all in your head") resources out there on the 'net and tables in doctors's offices, this site will focus more on support, treatment and activism rather than on "management."
Update: In the year or so since I first put up this page, there has been a growth in the number and variety of resources available on the WWW. Please use the following links to find further information on locating physicians, sources for competitively priced prescription drugs, etc., as I do not maintain lists of doctors or pain clinics myself.
For more on addiction versus treatment, please see the A Rose By Any Other Name Is A Tuna Sandwich sectiuon in my Filing Complaints Related to Undertreatment of Chronic Pain article.
For California Residents
Pain Patient's Bill of Rights
on Pain Treatment
Strain Injury Organizations
Online (AOL) Pain Recource Center
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