Musculoskeletal pain of the bone, joint and muscles is one of the most common reasons for primary care visits in the United States. 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 majority of chronic pain complaints concern the musculoskeletal system, but they also include headaches and abdominal pain. "As orthopaedic surgeons, we are experts in the management of acute injuries to the extremities and spine. As a specialty, however, we are admittedly less adept in the management of chronic musculoskeletal pain," says lead study author Richard L. Uhl, MD, an orthopaedic surgeon at Albany Medical Center in Albany, N.Y. "Given its prevalence, and the profound economic implications of chronic pain on both healthcare costs and lost productivity, we have a duty to be proficient in its diagnosis and care."
The Bare Facts
Orthopaedic surgeons and primary care physicians encounter patients who suffer from chronic pain almost daily.
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:
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