Freedom to treat chronic pain.

Memorial Day Remembrance: Sacrifices Made and Chronic Pain

As Memorial Day comes and passes, it’s an important time to remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.

For the PainDr team, the holiday represents a crossroads of sorts.

Our founder, Dr. Jeff Fudin, passed away almost a year ago to the date (May 27, 2022). It was quite fitting that he passed away during Memorial Day weekend, given him and his good friend/once pharmacy supervisor, Anthony Mariano, were selected as grand marshals for the Albany Memorial Day Parade almost twenty years prior to that; a considerable honor for any civilian. Both of them being civilians who made a different kind of sacrifice than what this holiday traditionally represents. Sacrifices involving whistleblowing at the Albany Stratton VAMC years before because of research violations and patient abuse that led to veteran harm and death.

Memorial Day also offers a time to reflect upon not only those who have made the ultimate sacrifice, but those who are left to continue on without their fallen brothers and sisters. The other service members and veterans who have lost those closest while serving their duty to this country, and after their duty had been served. The family members who have to carry on without those whom they love the most. Many of us who continue on torches set aflame by those lives lost.

It serves as a time to remember the importance of why those sacrifices were made in the first place. One word rings truer than most… Freedom. And one particular freedom has continued to be under attack over the past fifteen years… The freedom to treat pain, and have pain be treated.

Why are we discussing chronic pain on a day like this?

Well, according to recent data, new cases of chronic pain occur more often among US adults than new cases of common conditions such as diabetes, depression, and high blood pressure. The study that evaluated data from 2019 through 2020 specifically found that the rate of chronic pain among adults is approximately 21%, and the rate of high-impact pain is around 8%, both increases compared to past studies. Perhaps the most eye opening aspect of the study was that only 10.4% of people with chronic pain in 2019 were found to have recovered from and became pain free by 2020.

All of this underscores how important the need is for further research into chronic pain, not only from an etiology and pathology perspective, but from a treatment approach perspective. It emphasizes the need for enhanced multimodal models of transdisciplinary, interdisciplinary, and multidisciplinary pain care by a team of healthcare clinicians. In a day and age where chronic pain treatment seems to be on the back burner in terms of drug policy agenda, pharma funding, resource management, and insurance coverage, this study shows us that there is a critical importance of addressing this growing disease state. A burden of which is likely only going to increase in the coming years as more adults enter elder years increasing the risk of chronic pain conditions.

What’s more?

Throw in the fact that suicide rates in the chronic pain community are DOUBLE the rates seen in patients without chronic pain. It’s even worse in veteran populations, who, again, have to not only deal with many chronic debilitating pains, but also often have mental and psychological pains due to the severity of what they had to endure and what tragedies they may have seen. Not to mention the fact that tapering patients off established opioid regimens in patient center-less ways also substantially increases rates of suicide.

However, because of the expansion of power by third party payers limiting what treatments are available to treat chronic pain patients. Because of draconian anti-opioid laws and agendas, guidelines and recommendations that have disarmed healthcare clinicians across the board. Because of such a lack of reimbursement chronic pain treatment as a whole is able to receive that could help necessitate proper clinical funding. The freedom to treat chronic pain has remained strong-armed. It has remained a kind of limited freedom, and unfortunately, its asphyxiation has led to thousands of chronic pain patients to turn to a different type of freedom… A freedom at attempting to treat their own pain through the illicit drug market. A drug market that is now tainted with illicitly manufactured fentanyl analogues and other types of potent opioids, often unbeknownst to the user themselves.


Memorial Day and Chronic Pain: The Bottom Line:

As we celebrate with loved ones this weekend, grilling and enjoying the sun, let’s remember the significance of not only lives lost, but the pain that is inevitably carried by those who continue on without them. Let’s continue to have the disease state of chronic pain in our focus because of its prevalence, because of its debilitating nature, and because of the way our freedoms of treating it are being stripped away, one step at a time.

Let us all remember the liberties that those who made the ultimate sacrifice were fighting for in the first place. And, one such freedom that should never be diminished: the freedom to treat chronic pain.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.