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The Doctor is IN
Pain?! why we should treat it
Dr. Rami Rustum, Lawrence General Hospital Pain Management Center

“We must all die. But that I can save him from days of torture, that is what I feel is my great ever-new privilege. Pain is a more terrible lord of mankind than even death itself.

With these two simple sentences, Albert Schweitzer, the great humanitarian and physician, elegantly described the nature of pain, the obligation and the privilege of the physician to relieve it.

Today as then, proper management of pain remains one of the most important and most pressing issues of society in general and of the scientific community and health professional in particular.

Although pain is the first known problem that mankind suffered from since the early years of humanity, it didn’t get recognized as a medical specialty untill few years ago!

Pain management is a whole new field of medicine. While, of course, doctors have always tried to relieve their patients’ pain, in the last ten to fifteen years pain management has emerged as a specialty all its own. Just as some doctors specialize in treating cancer or heart disease or sports injuries, today there are doctors who specialize in treating pain.

Despite this great step, unfortunately we still have huge gaps in our knowledge about pain and a countless number of questions and concerns about many conditions!

Perhaps, it is useful to mention here that many medical authorities and organizations in the U.S. have already dedicated the first decade of the current century as the decade of pain research and understanding.

Why are we interested in treating pain?.

There is no doubt that for any caregiver, suffering is a big “No, No” but beside that, pain often produces various harmful psychosocial effects including fear, anxiety, interference with work, decreased self-esteem, loss of employment and income, sleep disorders and problematic relationships in terms of marital and family dysfunction.

There is strong evidence that pain can exacerbate already existing medical problems like increased heart rate and blood pressure, increased blood sugar, decreased digestive activity, and reduced blood flow. 

In addition to what we discussed above, pain simply is an expensive and costly problem.

Let’s consider chronic back pain as an example to explain the above statement:

According to a survey by Medical Data International in 2003:
* Back pain costs between $50 and $100 billion/ year
* Approximately seven million Americans are disabled by back problems
* Chronic back pain accounts for 100.6 million workdays lost for men alone.

In summary, pain is not only an old medical problem but also a socioeconomic dilemma with many ramifications.

If left untreated, it can leave the affected person in great jeopardy!

 *Send your questions comments to ValleyPatriot@aol.com
The January 2007 Edition of the Valley Patriot
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