Pain management specialists see first hand the extent to which chronic pain is a major problem. Approximately 100 million people in the United States suffer from chronic pain, according to the DANA association. Of those, about 26 million individuals between the ages of 20 and 64 have chronic back pain, 11.9 million experience chronic pain resulting from cancer, and an estimated 23 million people have chronic pain due to heart disease or stroke. Even the best orthopedic surgeon in the country who has extensive knowledge of medical exercise therapy cannot entirely relieve pain symptoms in a subset of chronic pain sufferers.
Sometimes pain management specialists recommend sports physical therapy as a means of dealing with chronic pain that has developed due to a major injury. Though at the beginning of physical therapy pain may actually worsen, in the long run, research conducted by pain management specialists shows that physical therapy can be quite helpful in regards to reducing pain symptoms.
Although narcotic pain medication can be habit forming, it is an essential part of treatment for many chronic pain sufferers. For people with end stage cancer and those who have suffered highly traumatic injuries, drugs like oxycodone, hydrocodone, and hydromorphone are a life line to tolerable day to day living. Of course, pain management specialists and others working at pain management centers understand that people taking this medication must be watched closely for signs of addiction or other problems, for example, decreased respiration, that can result with long term narcotic therapy. However, for the vast majority of people treated with opioid pain medications by experienced pain management specialists, these drugs are more helpful than harmful.