Chronic pain can be debilitating. Maximilian Hsia-Kiung, MD, a physician in the Department of Anesthesia, Critical Care and Pain Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital, talks about five things you didn’t know about chronic pain:
- Chronic pain, or pain that continues beyond a normally expected period of healing, is often its own disease. If left untreated, it can lead to depression, disability, and even affect the heart, endocrine and immune systems.
- About 100 million people in the United States suffer from chronic pain—that’s about 1 in 3, more than stroke, heart disease, diabetes and cancer combined.
- The total cost due to this epidemic is estimated to be about $500 billion per year (from direct medical costs and lost wages).
- Some of the most common causes of chronic pain in the United States include back and neck injury, headache, arthritis and pain from cancer.
- While certain medications can sometimes be helpful in treating chronic pain, they’re not the only thing that helps. Treatment often requires a combination of therapies such as exercise, behavior modification and cognitive therapy. Occasionally, more invasive procedures may also be helpful.
"Chronic pain is one of the most common reasons for a patient to seek medical care. While often very challenging to treat, it is important for patients to realize that there are often therapies available that can help them get back to their lives. At the Mass General Center for Pain Management, our focus is to help patients not only feel better, but get back to their family, work and active lifestyles," said Dr. Hsia-Kiung.
If you are looking for clinical services related to your pain, Mass General offers many pain management treatment programs, including:
- Acute Pain Services
- Behavioral Medicine Services
- Cancer-related Pain Treatment
- Chronic Headache Treatment
- Comprehensive Spine Treatment
- Painful Disorders Program
- Peripheral Neuropathy Treatment
- Post-surgical Back and Neck Pain Treatment
 National Institutes of Health. Relieving Pain in America: A Blueprint for Transforming Prevention, Care, Education, and Research. 2011.