(NewsUSA) – According to the Institute of Medicine, pain costs America upwards of $630 billion every year in medical expenses and lost wages.1 Reports of pain in America are up, particularly for those living below the poverty line, who may have the hardest time accessing quality health care.1
Lee Woodruff, journalist and co-founder of the Bob Woodruff Foundation ReMIND (www.remind.org), learned first-hand about the toll that pain can take on a family when her husband was critically injured in Iraq while working as a broadcast news correspondent. She also learned about the importance of taking an active role in her husband’s care and speaking up.
“It’s important to remember that you can be your best advocate when it comes to pain care. Learning as much as you can about your pain, and asking for help is a great way to start your advocacy journey. This isn’t a time to be shy,” said Mrs. Woodruff.
The percentage of Americans reporting chronic pain is on the rise. New data from the National Center for Health Statistics recently show that 28 percent of Americans experience low-back pain, an estimate that has increased steadily over the past decade.2
According to pain specialist Donna Kalauokalani, MD, MPH, pain affects our lives in surprising ways. “Pain doesn’t discriminate, but we know that our most vulnerable populations often have the hardest time accessing pain care,” said Dr. Kalauokalani. “People with pain and their caregivers can lend a powerful voice to improving pain care through advocacy.”
For people with pain, it’s easy to get discouraged. But there is hope. Even now, the National Institutes of Health are working across agencies to set a pain research agenda. Advocates are working to advance recommendations put forth by the Institute of Medicine to help improve pain care through increased patient and provider education. Telling your story is just one way that YOU can take action and help improve care and access to care for people who live with pain. Learn more at www.IntheFaceofPain.com.
1. IOM (Institute of Medicine). 2011. Relieving Pain in America: A Blueprint for Transforming Prevention, Care, Education, and Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.
2. National Center for Health Statistics. Health, United States, 2011: With Special Feature on Socioeconomic Status and Health. Hyattsville, MD. 2012.