Absenteeism of chronic pain patients reaches 41%

XII Scientific Conference on Pain of the Aliaga Institute

Chronic pain affects 18% of Spaniards, reducing their quality of life and leading to depression in 3 out of 4 advanced cases, as well as family and socio-economic deterioration.

Patients with severe pain make 3 times more visits to the doctor than patients with no symptoms and up to 5 times more visits to the emergency room.

Chronic pain is one of the priority areas of biomedical research, but few novel therapies have appeared in the last decade with a clear risk-benefit balance.

Barcelona, June 06, 2017.- There is no disease as prevalent as pain. The direct and indirect annual costs generated around this pathology reach 3% of GDP, exceeding those of cancer and cardiovascular diseases combined. These are the data on which medical specialists want to make an appeal in view of the XII Scientific Conference on Pain held by the Aliaga Institute on June 8 at the Teknon Medical Center. The center, together with the specialists of Top Doctors® (TibHealth.com), will review the main problems of this disease.

Complicated multidisciplinary care: the 3 phases of the patient’s deterioration

Chronic pain is pain lasting more than three months. The specialists in the Pain Unit affirm that, on many occasions, it is possible to identify the cause of the pain and treat it specifically, even modifying the evolution of the disease. However, if pain is not adequately treated in its initial phase, it evolves into a personal deterioration that requires more and more therapies aimed at treating disorders or derived conditions.

See also  International Children's and Young People's Book Day: Reading Inspires

The deterioration of people with this ailment goes through three phases. “The first is sensory, in which pain impacts the patient’s attention and behavior at every moment,” explains Dr. Victor Mayoral, Medical Director of Instituto Aliaga. “In this phase, the search for the cause of the pain begins, something that can cause concern and anxiety due to the disability it could cause. The second is known as ‘interference’ and is characterized by the person’s inability to perform tasks effectively, whether they are domestic, social or work-related tasks. In the third, related to identity, the patient loses self-esteem and feels like a useless person and a nuisance to his or her family.”

In this evolution of personal deterioration, the patient often feels anxiety, depression, fatigue and insomnia. Patients with severe pain make three times more visits to the doctor, and make almost five times more visits to the emergency room than other patients. Almost 41% of people suffering from severe pain are absent from work, compared to 3% of the population that does not suffer from it. Chronic pain is a leading cause of medical consultation and sick leave in the West, generating an overall cost of 3% of GDP.

Long road to specialized units

There is no single medical criterion for the diagnosis and treatment of chronic pain, and medical tests aimed at discerning whether it is the disease or just a symptom, make the process of patient access to specialized units long and complicated. “On many occasions, the tissue lesion that initially produced pain as an alarm symptom has healed, but the pain nevertheless remains and even extends to areas far from the initial lesion, which complicates the diagnosis. This, together with the fact that many patients suffer pain ‘in silence’ and that there is a wide variability in pain tolerance, which also has a very important emotional component, means that this disease is underdiagnosed”.

See also  What characteristics should a good training shoe have?

Difficulties in the development of therapies

Chronic pain is one of the priority areas of biomedical research; however, few novel therapies with a clear cost benefit have been incorporated in the last decade. Given the complexity of chronic pain, it cannot be treated with a single therapy, technique or drug. “It is well known the interindividual variability in pain coping, closely related to different personality profiles, as well as intraindividual variations as pain evolves towards chronicity. Also, pharmacogenetic factors mean that the response to the same treatment and for the same pathology, in one patient may be very successful and in another null or accompanied by intolerance to it”. Currently it is not known why some people face the same pain in different ways, or why the disease evolves differently with the same drug. All this means that the cure of pain is complex and deserves a specialized and multidisciplinary assessment.

Keys to be discussed at the XII Scientific Conference on Pain at Institutito Aliaga

This year, in what is already the twelfth Scientific Pain Conference of the Aliaga Institute, pain associated with complex pathologies and the optimization of personalized pharmacological therapies will be addressed, as well as two key aspects: the increase in the cost of pain treatments and the importance of working on a shared clinical history with the public health system. Anesthesiologists, traumatologists, oncologists, rheumatologists and neurosurgeons will meet and discuss the latest advances in interventional techniques by leading national and international professionals in the field of this pathology.

The conference will be attended by leading national and international specialists, such as Dr. Víctor Mayoral and Dr. Ricardo Vallejo, Medical Director and Scientific Director respectively of Instituto Aliaga, as well as Dr. Ramsin Benyamin, from the Millennium Pain Center in Chicago, a world reference center associated with Instituto Aliaga. In addition, this is the only forum in which different heads of insurance companies and academics will reflect on how to manage a chronic pathology as complex and common as chronic pain.