New Book Aims to Destigmatize the Stigmatized Chronic Pain Sufferers

New Book Aims to Destigmatize the Stigmatized Chronic Pain Sufferers

Editor’s Note: Dr. David Nagel is a contributor to the National Pain Report and has written a book that is due out in early July. It’s an important read for the chronic pain community. Here’s what some are saying about it. We’ll have an interview with Dr. Nagel about why he wrote the book.

Taking a sociological perspective, Dr. David Nagel looks at how we as a culture treat those who suffer from chronic pain and considers it a social problem. Undertreated pain and its social causes and ramifications is a cultural issue. As opiate use in treating pain and the merits of cannabis are debated, Needless Suffering: How Society Fails Those with Chronic Pain changes how we view chronic pain sufferers and how we treat them.

Nagel describes a dysfunctional health care system that naively believes it can effectively treat pain while ignoring those with expertise in this field and blaming patients who “refuse” to get well. Pain is a complex phenomenon and our ability to treat it is limited because we do not have a cure for pain, but we can work to minimize it. “When patients do not get better, rather than admit our limitations, we often blame them, attributing their pain to some character flaw,” says Nagel. “We ostracize these patients and challenge their integrity, aggravating an already challenging problem.”

Complete with concrete policy proposals and reforms to create more effective and compassionate pain care, this book is designed for pain patients and their families, healthcare providers, legislators and other public policymakers, judges, personal injury and other attorneys, insurers, government regulators, law enforcement personnel, and health care businesspeople.

“This book is a must-read because David Nagel remembers why he went to medical school. The United States has a broken pain treatment infrastructure that has patients and health-care providers in turmoil. Dr. Nagel has a unique understanding of both the problem and the solution.”

—Ed Coghlan, editor, National Pain Report

“Needless Suffering is a remarkable book that has the potential to change the way we talk about pain in America. Dr. Nagel unveils the many unspoken truths about a flawed health-care system that imprisons chronic pain patients for life. This book should be mandatory reading by health-care regulators, lawmakers, and anyone who wants to remove the stigma of the most prevalent medical problem in America: chronic pain.”

—Lynn R. Webster, MD, former president of the American Academy of Pain Medicine and author of The Painful Truth

“David Nagel has written a refreshingly honest account of his experience treating his patients’ pain within the larger context of the health-care system, the legal system, disability and insurance, the regulatory environment, and the business of health-care from his unique perspective as a pain physician . . . David Nagel’s compassion and sincere desire to alleviate human suffering will leave a lasting impression on his readers.”

—Cindy Steinberg, National Director of Policy and Advocacy, U.S. Pain Foundation

  1. DAVID NAGEL specializes in physical medicine, rehabilitation, and pain management in New Hampshire. He is a member of the Pain Alliance to Initiate a National Strategy (PAINS) and serves as New Hampshire representative to the American Academy of Pain Medicine. He lives in Gilmanton, New Hampshire.

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This will be surely a good book to read, chronic pain sufferer true story will inspire me to face any challenge and prepare yourself before it is too late. Yoga is a good exercise and it is also useful in treating dangerous diseases and various body pain.

Brooke Keefer

Congratulations! I recommend you create a Facebook page for the book and invest in a press release service like PR Newswire to make sure every single media outlet sees this-the chronic pain patient’s reality. You can hire people dirt cheap to help you with these things on

steve martens

Always thought that I would be a lifetime pain patient. No it would never go away no matter what type of opioid I used. Sure they lowered the pain level but never ever reducing to a level of not feeling the burning pain. However there is BREAKING NEWS, after 16 years 11 months somehow someway the burning intense pain has lowered to a zero with opioids. This is a huge breakthru for me and many doctors who claim it has never happened to any of their patients. Is it a miracle or science. You be the judge. Looking forward to reading the book and see just how close it is to my stories. We all have the horror stories and to see the treatment going downhill even more is very sad. Yes there is some who do get better so keep going you just never know what will happen in your lifetime.


As a chronic pain patient, I look forward to ordering this book. There is so much negativity associated with the true chronic pain sufferer that I really need to hear from a professional, compassionate, informed doctor. I am the victim, I didn’t choose this yet the media & government has demonized the only thing that has helped me have a quality of life, pain medicine. Medicine that I have never abused. Thank you sir, not only will you educate, you will make many feel that there is someone who understands what we already know…


@ Cynthia- Im well aware of the lifetime pain patient= and well aware society- including pain management specialists- help to create the lifetime pain patient. Note well Cynthia in comments to the NPS- i and one other person called for lowering the prevaelnce of pain- no medical organization called for such. THe CPATF didnt call for such- pain management specialists from the APS or AAPM, ama didnt call for such=and i had to twist governments arm so to speak before they made that a goal. So Im not ashamed to see and have a real vision for people in pain. For all government and the health care industry believe in is the lifetime pain patient. For they are fatalists- and i am not. They are too low in the tooth to have a dream of much different and much better pain care- i can still dream of much better pain care- and low and behold- the final version of the NPS calls for lowering the prevalence of pain in America- imagine that. And hopefully they wont discriminate between pain conditions or those who have pain in that regard. And as the other dreamer stated they should try to lower the prevalence of pain across the life span- Amen for that. Who will challenge yours truly in public on the issue-only the visionless who dwell in the halls of myopia holding on to petty values and low epectations and hopes. I believe in God- and my faith doesnt call on believers to have a timid spirit.The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams. I call for curing painful condition and and end to the fatalism and petty and timid vision of government and providers in pain care. And i have lots of new methods- whether they involve certain activities or use of different people- a far different vision then the anemic pain care system we have today. But i have read too many books by people in pain who have overcame pain- and i am someone who overcame fibro after a 4 year struggle. So i wont condemnn people in pain or play God about their future as the so called experts do. Ill keep hope alive- and no one alive can shake me from that hope. In short course Ill expose anyone who tries to being lazy and ignorant. For ive turned over so many stones to help people in pain i cant help believe people in pain can be cured. Even yesterday in comments to the fda on neuropathic pain- i call for curative treatment. If the VP- Biden can call for cures for cancer- why shouldnt we all call for cures for chronic pain- are we any less deserving- do people in chronic pain suffer less then people with cancer? Lets face it the biggest complain with people with cancer is the pain. People in pain can allow their past experience with pain to predict their future or believe that the common lot… Read more »


DAve….sounds as though you don’t believe there is such a thing as a “lifetime pain patient”. That is unfortunate, that you are lacking information on this. There are MANY MANY lifetime pain patients. Being in Pain is a chronic state for many people. It never goes away. How can you be on this site and not know that? You need to get informed on this……..Dr. Nagel, thank you so much for writing this book. We pain patients need doctors and professionals speaking up for us during this time of assault on us and our doctors.

Kathy Cooper

This sounds like a great book. It also sounds like it is not really supportive of the current Healthcare Industries narrative. It does not follow the current narrative endorsed by the Healthcare Industry and Mass Media. I have been following some of the major Corporate Media and the books they actively promote. This weeks book that is getting lots of Media attention is a Psychiatrist writing about Demonic Possession. I asked why, when there are so many books, writers, and subjects to write about. Why is this particular book getting attention, when books like the ones we are discussing here, will not get the free Corporate Media advertising and false consensus that it is somehow valid.
There used to be a divide between what was peddled and entertainment, and what professionals in certain fields relied on for information. That line is now blurred. There was once an idea that Science was behind some of these professions, but that is not so evident anymore. It seems like the wackier the idea the more attention it gets. The book on Psychiatry and Demonic Possession is catchier than another book on the Chronic Pain “epidemic.”
The Industry does not have to pay attention to a book grounded in facts and dry Statistics. The Corporate Media has “educated” the Public and the Policy makers. Somehow the Old People with multiple Surgeries no longer exist. The workers who are injured on the Job, they just leave those numbers out. No one is collecting the Data except as an Inconvenient side issue that comes up in the Suicide rates, or the Number of people collecting Disability. The Corporate Media has even digested that information for us, making it appear as nothing much to be concerned about.

The Media is very powerful, the facts don’t matter, just the perceptions.


Good job! I am limited to four pills per day, regardless of the type of medicine or dosage. When most short-acting pain medications are programmed to last 4 hours and maybe a little more but certainly not 6! Why, you ask, is this the case? The government’s non pain professionals are now in charge of our care. The drug police. *shudder* Just as the good doctor is telling us. I look forward to reading this book, for comfort if nothing else. That has value - even for the most hardened long-term pain patient!
B. Stewart

Tim Mason

The pain management doctor I am with is not my first one. When you find one that has spent a large portion of his or her life studying Pain and the management of it they do deserve a great deal of respect. Certainly, there is the newbie that thinks that they are Gods gift to medicine but the last thing you want to do is comprise your relationship by discounting their knowledge and demanding certain drugs or treatments. One your relationship is compromised you need to move on. The profession is not far removed from the highly skilled and trained mechanic that works on your automobile.
There is a method to the madness but the last thing you want to do is compromise your relationship with someone willing to help you.

Anne Fuqua

Wow….same book I just got from Kindle today….it’s a great book! Very interesting….only two chapters left:)


I look forward to reading this book. I may just get one for my dr as well. Hats off to you Dr.Nagel, thank you for helping to #givepainavoice, we are #patntsnotaddicts !! #facesofchronicpain. Bless you Dr. Nagel and to all the drs who are taking a stand against our very corrupt government. They are committing genocide on the chronic pain community and not one media outlet, radio, tv, etc cares to bat an eye, everyday more lives are lost to suicide from those who could no longer bare the pain, and noone cares, now if those suicides/deaths were from addicts it would be on every newschannel out there as it is almost daily, enough is enough!


Though I agree with some of the insights of this book- that medicine is arrogant and tries to force people in pain to fit their theories and that all of society is involved in pain care- the rest of the book is very self serving and self glorifying. The author sees pain management specialists like himself as the faultless heroes of pain care that should be given free reign by the rest of society to do as they please with people in pain. And no wonder members of his epistemic community have given his book their seal of approval.
But his emphatic bias against curative treatment is just irresponsible and fatalistic. Eric Cassels the ethicist says doctors should lend strength to people in pain- I dont see this author as doing that. OIn the contrary he is a firm believer in the lifetime pain patient. Even Perry Fine- the former President of the AAPM indicated some do overcome pain-and research on migraine and rheumatoid arthritis and cancer show pain can be eliminated. Its ashame the author wishes to impose his bias on people in pain.
The authgor also- like so many in his profession, doesnt seek to give people in pain a real voice in policies and what treatments and programs are available. Once again he sees his own vision and the vision of pain management as so perfect there is no need for people in pain or the rest of society to be weigh in the perfect pain care that he and other pain management specialists provide.
The author has no vision for improving pain care beyond removing the demands placed on him and other pain management practitioners. The visionless dwell in the halls of myopia and their imaginations are self indulgence.
This book is about self serving as it gets. Dont the pain management professionals glorigy in their own wisdom without knowing a wisdom other then their own.

Richard Dobsonn


Based on the message in the Prologue, and the first chapter, I am convinced this book is well worth reading and I have purchased an ebook version. I share some of the medical roots with Dr. Nagel, and I have learned from people like Dr. Joynt and Dr. Engel. I have learned that the doctor enters the forest of patients but treats and interacts with one “tree” at a time. I have seen examples of mistreatment of pain patients that parallel those written about by Dr, Nagel. But today, the forest of pain patients and the doctors trying to treat those patients, bound together by their fiduciary bond, is under major attack.on many fronts. It seems that there is an effort to clear cut the entire forest in effort to get rid of the weeds of drug dealers. Based on my reading so far, I believe the book will confront many of the issues at play in a very readable and eye opening manner. Thank you Dr. Nagel!


Wonderful! I will be purchasing several copies! We need more doctors to stand up for chronic pain patients and more to speak out against a system that fails way too many. Chronic pain is a living nightmare that destroys peoples lives through no fault of their own.


I look forward to reading his book.I give him credit for going against his “brotherhood” so to speak. Hopefully this book along with another Dr’s will encourage more truths to be told with others getting up their courage and back bones too.


I just ordered the book and am looking forward to reading it! This exact subject is what I’ve been trying my best to educate family/friends about. They still don’t get it though and seem to think I am just complaining. Hopefully this book will help me with that!
Thank You Dr. Nagel!

Tim Mason

I ordered this book. I can hardly wait to read it. It will be a nice addition to the book Pain-Wise which is also a must have, must read for anyone with chronic pain or a loved one suffering from Chronic Pain
Knowledge is Power.
Tim Mason

Mark Ibsen MD

I look forward to reading this just as soon as it becomes available.
We need to elevate the conversation about Pain, as well as get over our tendency to look for scapegoats when our system fails its constituents:

Written from Leh, Ladakh, India