According to a literature review appearing in a recent issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (JAAOS), chronic pain, or pain that persists beyond an expected period of healing, is estimated to affect 100 million Americans.
The Bare Facts
- Low back pain affects up to 80 percent of Americans at some point in life, and consistently ranks among the top five most common reasons for all healthcare visits in the U.S.
- Chronic knee, hip, and shoulder pain from degenerative processes also is common, as are chronic neuropathic pains from advanced diabetes.
A Surprising Study Finding
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)—easily the most commonly recommended or prescribed medication by orthopaedic surgeons—are not especially effective in many chronic pain scenarios. “While far from the everyday ‘arsenal’ of orthopaedic surgeons, antidepressants and anticonvulsants (medications to prevent seizures) can have remarkable effects on many forms of chronic bone and joint pain. There are many readily-accessible, economic, safe and effective treatments for chronic pain,” says Dr. Uhl.
Chronic Pain Management Options
Ways to help manage chronic pain include:
- Avoiding reasons foracute pain by using safety precautions including appropriate techniques and, above all, common sense when performing every day activities (e.g., driving), fitness routines (e.g., weight-lifting), or work place routines (e.g., operating heavy machinery).
- Avoiding behaviors (e.g., tobacco use), appropriately treating mood disorders (e.g., depression or anxiety), or controlling diabetes and other health issues may reduce one’s risk of developing chronic pain.
- Evaluating the source of the pain. Chronic pain from an undiagnosed tumor or infection won’t improve until the underlying condition is addressed. “The majority of chronic pain cases are related to slow, degenerative joint processes; nerve impingement, compression, or damage; or simply unknown or unclear sources,” says Dr. Uhl.
- Physicians and patients cooperating as a healthcare team. The authors offer a simplified treatment guide for specific pain scenarios, but recommend that all physicians tailor treatment for each individual patient.
- Correspondence: Posterior Malleolus Fracture
- Application of Biologics in the Treatment of the Rotator Cuff, Meniscus, Cartilage, and Osteoarthritis
- Arthroscopic Subscapularis Repair
- Surgical Treatment of Metastatic Long Bone Fractures: Principles and Techniques
- Management of Chronic Musculoskeletal Pain
- Composite Bone Models in Orthopaedic Surgery Research and Education
- Fresh Osteochondral Allograft Transplantation for the Knee: Current Concepts Review
For more information on managing pain with medications, visit OrthoInfo.org.
Orthopaedic surgeonsrestore mobility and reduce pain; they help people get back to work and to independent, productive lives. Visit ANationInMotion.org to read successful orthopaedic stories.
More information about the AAOS
|Lauren Pearson Riley