If you suffer from pain, your doctor should consider it a disease


Chronic and recurrent pain is a disease, not just a symptom, according to the European Federation of IASP (International Association for the Study of Pain) Chapters (EFIC). They recently presented a declaration prompting the classification of chronic and recurrent pain as a disease in its own right.

In an editorial published in the journal, Pain Practice, authors David Niv, M.D. and Marshall Devor, PhD outline the major arguments in support of this categorization. Niv and Devor were also the original authors of the essay that evolved into the EFIC declaration.

One point in support of this view calls attention to the definition of disease in the Oxford English dictionary: "a bodily condition in which functions are disturbed or deranged," accurately describing chronic pain. Additional points argue that chronic pain can persist long after its usefulness as an initial "alarm" to the body has ended, and even after damaged tissue has healed or a precipitating disease has been cured, proving it much more than just a symptom.

Data further emphasize the financial implications of pain as overall costs are comparable to those of cancer and heart disease.

Efforts need to be devoted to "increasing the attention devoted to the problem by healthcare professions, including increased awareness and use of existing pain relief modalities, increased training in the management of chronic pain, and increased research efforts toward the discovery of novel treatments," state the authors.

While there has been some initial resistance to the idea of this classification, the idea is catching on. The article points out that chronic pain is "clearly a very widespread condition as several recent studies revealed that 50% of adults surveyed suffer from one or more types of pain or discomfort at any given point in time" and "although few people die of pain, many die in pain and even more live in pain."

EFIC's Declaration reads: "Pain is a major healthcare problem inEurope. Although acute pain may reasonably be considered a symptom of disease or injury, chronic and recurrent pain is a specific healthcare problem, a disease in its own right."

Source: Eurekalert & others

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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