Chronic pain is a hormone replacement therapy that affects the nervous system. Most general physicians would rather have their toenails pulled or undergo a root canal than treat a patient that has chronic pain. Why? Well, here are two of the most common reasons.
First, absent from the American medical school curriculum is pain management and pain treatment. It is said by many that veterinarians receive a better education and training to treat pain than a general medical physician.
As such, most general physicians do not think of chronic pain as a disease. The general thought among most of them is that it is nothing more than a symptom that doesn’t need any further attention.
Secondly, it is the fear of malpractice lawsuits and losing their medical license. The effect that general practitioners have is chilling when we look at the constraints on their choices of how to manage a patient’s pain. They fear to lose their license if the medical board believes they are writing too many prescriptions for controlled substances that can ease the pain.
A recent study that examined physician’s attitudes and train of thoughts about treating pain found shocking results. More than half of those who participated in the study did not feel they were equipped to deal with chronic pain experienced by their patients.
When we consider that here are more than 100-million people suffering from chronic pain and just over 3,000 specialists that treat pain, we need our primary care physicians to pick up that gap in the patient to caregiver ratio.
Opioid Related Deaths
Between 1999 and 2008, it has been reported by the CDC that this country saw a four-fold increase of deaths that were opioid-related. It was also reported that one-third of those opioid-related deaths was related to the highly effective medication, methadone.
And even though there is a lot of controversy around those statistics, it is a clear message that physicians are not treating chronic pain among their patients properly. During this period, untrained physicians were encouraged to prescribe methadone as a pain medication. They unintentionally overdosed their patients with the medication. How?