Out of 238 million American adults, 100 million live with chronic
pain. And yet the press has paid more attention to the abuses of
pain medications than the astoundingly widespread condition they
are intended to treat. Ethically, the failure to manage pain better
is tantamount to torture. When chronic pain is inadequately
treated, it undermines the body and mind. Indeed, the risk of
suicide for people in chronic pain is twice that of other people.
Far more than just a symptom, author Judy Foreman writes, chronic
pain can be a disease in its own right-and it's the biggest health
problem facing America today. Published in partnership with the
International Association for the Study of Pain, A Nation in Pain
offers a sweeping, deeply researched account of the chronic-pain
crisis, from neurobiology to public policy, and presents practical
solutions that are within our grasp today. Drawing on both her
personal experience with chronic pain and her background as an
award-winning health journalist, she guides us through recent
scientific discoveries, including genetic susceptibility to pain;
gender disparities in pain conditions and treatments, perhaps
linked to estrogen; the problem of undertreated pain in children;
the emerging role of the immune system in pain; advances in
traditional treatments such as surgery and drugs; and fair-minded
assessments of the effectiveness of alternative remedies, including
marijuana, acupuncture, massage, and chiropractic care. For many
people, the real magic bullet, Foreman writes, is exercise. Though
many patients fear it will increase their discomfort, studies show
it consistently produces improvement, often dramatic. She also
explores the destructive "opioid wars," which have led to a
misguided demonization of prescription painkillers. Foreman
presents a far-reaching but sensible plan of action, ranging from
enhancing pain education in medical schools to reforms of federal
policies across the board. For doctors, scientists, policy makers,
and especially patients, A Nation in Pain is essential reading.
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