Is Pain Misunderstood?

New Survey Shows Many Are Misinformed


Sept. 20, 2002 -- A group that is trying to raise awareness about pain has found that pain is vastly misunderstood by the public.

A Partners for Understanding Pain survey shows most Americans know little about who suffers from chronic pain and how it is treated. The group is a coalition of 50 medical organizations.

The survey revealed that most people (78%) are afraid they would become addicted to pain medication. But pain expert Daniel Carr, MD, of the Tufts-New England Medical Center, says in a news release that most pain medications rarely cause addiction because they don't produce a "high." They merely relieve pain.

Most people in the survey also believe that most chronic pain sufferers are 65 or older. But the Partners for Understanding Pain says 80% of sufferers really are between 24 and 64.

Can your doctor diagnose your pain problem and treat it? Most people in the survey believe so. But Carr says few doctors have formal training because few medical schools teach pain management.

The American Chronic Pain Association, which organized the coalition, says more than 50 million Americans suffer from chronic pain.