By Ed Coghlan.
A new report commissioned by a neurostimulation company says members of the chronic pain community are grappling with how to manage their conditions under increased scrutiny from the federal government.
The report – entitled “Flipping the Script: Living with Chronic Pain amid the Opioid Crisis”— was commissioned by NeuroMetrix, a commercial stage neurostimulation and digital medicine company and creators of Quell Wearable Pain Relief Technology.
“The rise of the opioid epidemic has had a significant impact on those living with chronic pain, and oftentimes the voice of this population has gotten lost. We wanted to shine some light on the experiences of chronic pain sufferers with this research,” said Shai N. Gozani, Ph.D., M.D., president and CEO of NeuroMetrix. “These results underscore the need for more research and treatment modalities to support those living with chronic pain, as well as a joint effort among care providers, innovators, government stakeholders and patients to expand the goals of pain treatment. If we shift focus to making the end goal of pain treatment about decreasing suffering and disability rather than exclusively pain intensity, we may open ourselves to new possibilities and treatments that will empower those with chronic pain to find relief and gain greater control over their lives.”
Key report findings include:
The opioid epidemic has created an unfair stigma for those living with chronic pain. A majority of respondents (84 percent) believe a stigma exists, and as a result, 50 percent indicated they have lied or hidden their opioid use from others.
This stigma is affecting treatment of care. More than a third (34 percent) had to stop taking opioids because their doctor no longer prescribed them, and 42 percent stated the stigma of opioid use has impacted how they communicate with their doctor about their pain.
There’s a strong desire for alternatives to treat chronic pain. The most common reasons for those living with chronic pain to seek other treatments are because they don’t like the side effects of prescription medications (43 percent) and that they prefer to treat pain without prescription medication (39 percent).
There’s a fracture in the doctor-patient relationship. Fifty-nine percent of respondents said they don’t believe their doctor is completely informed about treatment options outside of prescription drugs. Only 15 percent said their doctor has proactively suggested looking into alternative treatments.
Individuals living with chronic pain are taking treatment into their own hands. Ninety percent of those living with chronic pain are actively seeking new treatment methods. When evaluating new treatments, respondents indicated that in addition to their doctor, feedback from friends and family (87 percent), online reviews (80 percent) and news coverage (73 percent) are increasingly influential sources.
The “one-size-fits-all” approach to treating chronic pain doesn’t work. Those with chronic pain use an average of two treatment methods regularly, and are comfortable trying new treatments, with 59 percent indicating they have tried new methods in the past year.
“There is no magic bullet for chronic pain, and people often have to employ multiple different therapies to achieve some relief,” says Nicole Hemmenway, \ CEO of U.S. Pain Foundation. “Unfortunately, many patients find their options for relief are limited by affordability and accessibility. We need to do more to encourage insurers to provide better coverage to safe, alternative pain management approaches, like wearable devices.”
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