Prevention of Chronic Pain – Is This Possible?

Dear Pain Matters blog readers,

What if chronic pain could be prevented altogether (for many)?

What if treatment of acute pain was so effective that many people may not even develop chronic pain?

What if significantly less than 20% of adults suffered from chronic pain?

Currently, between 6.7 to 13 million (10% to 20%) of all adults in Germany suffer from chronic pain.  This translates to a financial burden due to chronic pain of 20.5 to 29 Billion Euro annually in Germany.  Furthermore, almost 1/3 of all chronic pain patients confirm untreated/under-treated pain due to underprovision of strong analgesics.

Non diagnosis of chronic pain or delayed pain treatment can have far-reaching implications for the affected pain patients (as well as their family) including their inability to work as well as adverse effects on their overall health and quality of life.

Acute pain that remains untreated or under-treated can lead to chronic pain that is a disease in its own right.

Other countries report a similar horror story.

A new initiative, called the Münster-Charta (Schmerz-Charta, translated Pain-Charta), states that all people are entitled to effective pain therapy.

Put together by a collaboration between:

  • Der Deutschen Schmerzgesellschaft;
  • Der Österreichischen Schmerzgesellschaft;
  • Der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Palliativmedizin; and
  • Deutschen Berufsverband für Pflegerufe,

 

the Münster-Charta lists 7 core requirements toward improved pain therapy for all people living with chronic pain (Osterbrink et al, 2016).

Today’s blog post will briefly discuss the 2nd core requirement, called Prevention of Chronic Pain.

Prevention of Chronic Pain:

The Münster-Charta states that to prevent chronic pain, appropriate acute pain therapy and adequate treatment of the underlying medical condition(s) is necessary.

Thus:

  • Medical care for underlying medical condition(s) must aim to treat the cause of acute pain as well as manage the related symptoms in order to reduce overall pain.
  • A suggestion:  Enhanced support (including political/financial/medical support) may be a step in the right direction to prevent the chronification of pain.
  • Chronic pain may be prevented altogether if acute pain is properly treated throughout a patient-oriented healing/recovery process, based on the latest and most effective medical treatments.   
  • Necessary steps are necessary to prevent or reduce acute pain.
  • There must be a goal to ensure that the patient has timely access to adequate and effective treatment for acute pain.
  • Patient-oriented treatment of acute pain to prevent chronic pain should also include treatment of emergency patients as well as patients in subacute care and rehabilitation (Osterbrink et al, 2016).

Summary:

The Münster-Charta‘s goal to prevent the chronification of acute pain is a step in the right direction, one that is worthwhile pursuing at all levels of society including by medical and health professionals as well as by others who have a personal/professional/financial/political interest in reducing the suffering caused by chronic pain.

Wouldn’t it be great if chronic pain could be prevented altogether for many acute pain patients?

Sabina Walker

REFERENCES

(1) Osterbrink, J., Nestler, N., Schüßler, N. et al

Münster-Charta – Eine Charta zur Umsetzung einer hochwertigen Schmerztherapie;

Schmerz (2016) 30: 358.

doi:10.1007/s00482-016-0116-7

 

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