Pain Purgatory versus Healing Our Biggest Health Problem

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Judy Foreman’s book, A Nation in Pain: Healing Our Biggest Health Problem, is due for release January 30, 2014.  So far, the reviews are incredible!  It is especially encouraging that the book is written by a journalist who herself suffered in pain.  A nice bonus here is that nobody can rightfully accuse Journalist Judy Foreman of bias from Big Pharma, an addiction disorder, or opiophobia.  In this particular case, she is a woman that sets out to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth based on experience, research, and a lot of interviews with patients, clinicians, lawmakers, and politicians!  The book was 5 years in the making, and acceptable pain management in this country today may be woefully inferior to when she started her research.

Kirkus, Pain-topics, and Publishers Weekly all gave stellar appraisals to the book.

Dr. Stewart Leavitt of suitably highlighted the following statements from journalist Judy Foreman; “The complex truth is that opioids, especially opioids for long-term use in chronic non-cancer pain, are probably both under-prescribed for some patients and overprescribed for others.”  “…what I am saying is that government drug policy seems to be lopsided, politicized, stacked against legitimate pain patients, and fueled by public hysteria over abuse of prescription pain relievers. That hysteria, in turn, is fueled by often-misleading media coverage.”  And with regard to opioids, Foreman states that it is a “highly emotional struggle in which much of the ‘debate’ is driven not by scientific facts but by dueling anecdotes of horror.”  According to the Kirkus Review; “Foreman’s text underscores the fact that pain really is an extraordinarily complex phenomenon that requires more research. If we continue head-in-the-sand policies, we will remain a nation in pain.”

The following book overview is pasted [with permission] from Judy Foreman’s website…

In this book, I argue that lack of adequate pain control is one of the most urgent health problems in America. In my research over the last five years, I have interviewed nearly 200 scientists and physicians, as well as countless patients, a few lawyers and a handful of government officials. I have amassed a roomful of books on pain and hundreds upon hundreds of scientific papers.

I have found that there is an appalling mismatch between what people in pain need and what doctors know. Out of 238 million adult Americans, 100 million live in chronic pain. Yet most doctors know almost nothing about it, much less how to treat it. Doctors get only 9 hours of pain education throughout four years of medical school. Even veterinarians get more.

The government, specifically the National Institutes of Health, isn’t much better. It spends only about one percent of its vast – $358 million – yearly budget on pain research, despite the fact that chronic pain is a bigger problem than heart disease, cancer and diabetes combined. Indeed, federal spending on chronic pain is actually going down.

Culture wars over prescription painkillers play into all this, too. I discovered that opioids (narcotics) are like airplane food – not great, but hard to get enough of if you are a legitimate pain patient. And all too easy to get if you are a street abuser. Tragically, politics still means the government – and the press – focus more on punishing abusers than helping patients. Yes, there are roughly 16,000 opioid-related deaths a year, but the press rarely notes that only 29 percent of these involve opioids alone, without alcohol or benzodiazepines. Amid all the prescription painkiller hysteria, the press also pays little attention to the 7,000 to 10,000 deaths a year from NSAIDS, non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen.

I got into all this the hard way, with excruciating neck pain that came on, seemingly out of the blue, a few years ago. I am better now. I did what you’ll read about in the second half of this book – opioids, NSAIDS, physical therapy, exercise (lots), meditation, acupuncture, massage, steroid injections, Botox . I learned that nothing really cures pain, but that lots of things can help a little, and that adding them all together can decrease it a bit more.

I have come to believe that the failure to better manage pain borders on “torture by omission.” Many people – whose stories are in the book – can’t get rid of their pain altogether, yet still manage to live extremely fulfilling lives.

Whatever your pain now – or the pain of someone you love – I hope you read this book to better understand your pain and fight for the care you need.

See trailer on Judy Foreman’s book, her Psychology Today Blog, and follow @judy_foreman on Twitter.

As always, comments from our followers and fellow bloggers are welcome!

A Nation in Pain: Healing Our Biggest Health Problem
Judy Foreman; Oxford University Press; ISBN-10: 0199837201 | ISBN-13: 978-0199837205
Available: January 30, 2014
Prepublication ordering available at Amazon

9 thoughts on “Pain Purgatory versus Healing Our Biggest Health Problem

  1. I look forward to reading this book. I have a story of pain as well.I really don’t want to get into all of it. But I had to leave the job I loved and had been doing for over 45 years.I am one of those people that looked forward to going to work every day. My job as a construction Superintendent was my life. So after I was told I could not go back it just tore my life apart. I went through 6 months of P. T. that did nothing to get me back to my job. But even back then the people at the P.T. told me that my pain meds were not strong enough to allow me to do what needed to be done. I told my doctor as did the people were I went every other day that the meds were not helping me enough. He never increased my meds. He did what was called a manual manipulation to my knee after being put to sleep. that did nothing either. So I retired and moved to Florida to be with my daughter and grandchildren. Still in major pain. I could barley bend my knee 10 maybe 15 degrees. I finally went to a pain management Doctor who cared and started working with me. After a year I was much more comfortable and able to do small things but most important I was not suffering every day. Thanks to my doctor and the pain meds he prescribed for me I have been able to work my knee every day and now after 5 years I am almost able to bend my knee 45 degrees. I can walk up stairs and can spend more then a couple of hours on my feet. I am 68 now and I have to wonder if my doctor back home would have increased my pain meds so I could have worked my knee with out hurting so bad I would throw up if I could have gone back to my job. But now I am just happy to be able to take my meds every day and enjoy my family. To all of you like Dr. Fudin Thank You for helping people like myself. We are not junkies we are people in pain that need your help. Keep up the good fight. And God Bless you all…. Terry

  2. I am also very happy that Judy Foreman has come out with this book especially now in 2014. Let’s all hope it gets a lot attention.
    So many patients are under treated in this nation and Florida was hit very hard as Nancy mentioned.
    Between the pharmacies refusing to fill the prescriptions and because the pain doctors are once again afraid to write for the adequate doses of medications, there is a lot of people suffering here and everywhere else.
    I really hope this book brings some light onto the population that does suffer daily and
    I look forward to reading this book.
    I really hope that many doctors, politicians, along with CNN Dr.Gupta reads this book as well.
    We honestly need more media stating the positive facts about pain medications and how it does help to relieve legitimate patients pain.

  3. Thank you Judy Foreman! I look forward to reading this book. What will it take for change? In Florida, there is too much fear from pain physicians, pharmacists and patients. I see this as the beginning of things to come across the America. Now that Judy has written the book to bring this topic to the forefront, perhaps we can get together physicians, pharmacists, patients and loved ones and begin a dialog with our government to create a better life for those who struggle with intolerable pain. My question: what is the next step? a meeting with DEA? speaking before Congress as a group? One patient in chronic pain cannot do this alone.
    Thank you once again Dr. Fudin for this post and all you do to shed light on the inadequacies of pain care in America.

  4. Thanks so much for bringing up Judy Foreman’s new book! I am a big fan of hers, and am SO looking forward to reading her upcoming book, “A Nation in Pain. Healing our Biggest Health Problem”.

    A few weeks ago, during my usual Sunday morning routine (coffee & The Boston Globe), I was so delighted to see a wonderful article about pain Inside the Boston Globe Magazine, written by none other than Judy Foreman. Words can’t express how moved I was to finally read the TRUTH about living with pain, and what pain sufferers go through to find adequate care and understanding. What a relief it was to read an HONEST portrayal of life with pain, minus the sensationalism, and the Opiophobia. I even sent her an email to thank her for her advocacy, and express my gratitude for her wonderful article.

    Thank you Dr. Fudin, for bringing Judy Foreman’s book to our attention!

  5. The NIH budget of $358 million, as noted above from the book, should more correctly be stated as about $30.8 BILLION, as is indicated elsewhere in the book. While 1% of the latter figure devoted to pain research is larger, it is still a paltry amount proportionally.

  6. I will be looking for this book come January 30, 2014 , its time someone wrote a tell all book that gives the true story of what chronic pain sufferers go through. I too suffer from severe intractable pain in my cervical spine from a roll over car accident I had when I was 28. I walked away from the accident without a scratch but the ER doctor told me the roof was down on the top of my head and when I get older I may have neck problems. Sure enough when I turned 38 the pain started. I’m not going to explain what I went through because all of you know what it is like to suffer from chronic pain and how hard it is to get the correct pain treatment plan.
    For 10 years doctors made me suffer for no good reason. Then I found a compassionate Pain Specialist that worked with me by slowly titrating up to a level of relief using a long lasting pain med. That combined with exercise ,meditation, planning each day ahead of time so I stay busy and not think of the pain helped in a great way. So it wasn’t just the medication that helped it was a combination of other therapies combined. Now I’m 57 and things aren’t half bad ,my life has meaning again and I thank my past Pain Specialist for his compassion even though he is no longer with us anymore.
    I learned a lot from Dr. Joel Hochman , he was the most patient doctor I ever met.
    Even though I haven’t read the book yet I want to thank Judy Foreman for her hard work and compassion to put in to words what she went through and I’m happy she found relief and happiness once again.

    Mark S Barletta

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