I’m at a cross-roads when it comes to helping myself get out of a downward spiral of pain, pain, and more pain. My doctor considers me a chronic pain patient and probably a crock. But my pain is real. I’m not making this up. And I’m not trying to get out of anything. Unfortunately, I’ve exceeded what my insurance company will allow for treatment of this problem. Is there any hope that the system will change to help people like me?

There is always hope that change will come in various segments of the health care delivery system. Funding to support the help needed by patients with chronic pain is certainly an area that could use a shot in the arm so-to-speak.

Right now, there are 116 million adults in the United States alone looking for some help. And telling them “it’s all in your head” or “there’s nothing that can be done” just isn’t acceptable.

That’s the stance of the Institute of Medicine (IOM) and they are throwing their weight behind it. The IOM is calling for a greater dedication to pain research and more money to fund it. There is a need to support researchers as they help find better ways to treat chronic pain,

Experts in pain management want to see new pain medications and therapies for people like yourself who are suffering from this “disease”. They are advocating for training and education for physicians. And leaders of the Institute of Medicine (IOM) are asking for better reimbursement for health care professionals who spend the time to really understand and care for these patients.

The Institute of Medicine (IOM) has made several other recommendations of interest:

  • Add required courses to all medical school curriculums on pain and pain management.
  • Licensing and certification exams for physicians should include pain-related assessments
  • Expansion of pain-centered care under Medicare, Medicaid, Workers’ Compensation, and private insurance plans.
  • Remove barriers from physicians (and other health care professionals) billing and receiving reimbursement for the time it actually takes to find a workable solution for these patients.
  • Broaden the research scope to include genetic, psychologic, environment, social, and cultural aspects of chronic pain.

    These recommendations are supported by 35 other groups involved in pain management at some level (e.g., the American Academy of Neurology, the American Academy of Pain Management, the American Pain Foundation, American Pain Society). Any time you see efforts from this many health care groups, there’s hope that the message will move forward and yield fruit for everyone!