An autonomous Disease
Pain serves as a warning signal of imminent or actual damage. In this respect, pain has an important function in preventing damage to the body and if damage does occur, in restoring the body to its normal functions. However, pain may also be experienced occasionally in the absence of any tissue damage, or its intensity may not be in proportion to the original injury.
Generally, pain is considered to be chronic if it persists after the damaged tissue is healed and has no biological function. In contrast to acute pain, chronic pain has lost its warning and protective function and becomes a disease in its own right.
Chronic pain is a very common disease. In Europe it strikes one in five (19 per cent) adults, and its prevalence is on the rise. One-third of these European chronic pain sufferers are in severe pain, and almost half have constant pain1.
Chronic Pain greatly impairs Quality of Life
You as a chronic pain patient know better than anyone else, that quality of life can be tremendously affected if chronic pain is not appropriately treated. In addition to constantly suffering from pain, sleeping disorders, reduced mobility or depression are the consequences. Therefore, pain means being handicapped physically, socially and psychologically:
- Two-thirds of pain sufferers are less able or unable to sleep
- About 60 per cent of patients with chronic pain are less able or unable to work outside their homes
- One in five chronic pain sufferers have been diagnosed with depression as a result of their pain
- Up to 50 per cent of chronic pain sufferers report a reduced ability to maintain family relationships and sexual relations
Chronic Pain Ambassadors: Pain and its impact on life
Chronic Pain demands special treatment
Chronic pain is a burden for you as a patient and your environment which is not to be underestimated; it represents a special therapeutic challenge for the physician.
If chronic pain is not adequately treated, a prolonged period of suffering, and in many cases, considerable additional complications are foreseeable2. Inactivity and social isolation can lead to depression or other psychological diseases. Therapeutic success can best be achieved with multimodal approaches - the treatment of pain implies an interdisciplinary procedure involving various therapies, for example:
- pharmacological treatment
- physical therapy
- psychological treatment
- procedures to overcome the pain and dysfunction
Chronic pain is not merely defined by its duration. In accordance with the bio-psychosocial pain model other factors are involved in the development of chronic pain. The degree of chronicity can be determined by specifically recording the case history3. Although chronic pain is one of the most common and cost-intensive diseases, it is often not treated adequately. This inadequacy has severe consequences, impairing the mental and physical health of you and your family.
1 Breivik H et al.: Survey of chronic pain in Europe: Prevalence, impact on daily life, and treatment. European Journal of Pain, 2006; 10:287-333
2 Shipton EA, Tait B. Flagging the pain. European Journal of Anaesthesiology 2005;22:405–12.
3 Ljutow A, Nagel B. [How can I assess the back pain status in my patients? The Mainz chronic disease staging method and its prognostic value], Wie schätze ich die Rückenschmerzsituation meines Patienten ein? Die Mainzer Chronifizierungsstadien und ihre prognostische Bedeutung. Z Orthop Ihre Grenzgeb. 2005;143:311–5. Ger.