Tailoring Pain Care to Each Person’s Experience

Women and older adults more susceptible to “every day” pain

painThere are several forms of pain – acute, persistent and chronic. Each range in severity based on how long it lasts and where it’s felt.

A new study in the Journal of Pain conducted by researchers at Washington State University found that 20% of adults experience persistent pain, defined as constant or frequent pain lasting at least 3 months. Researchers analyzed the 2010 Qualify of Life Supplement of the National Interview Survey, where they found about 19% of adults experience pain “most days” or “every day” and 37% of adults experience pain “some days,” with the majority being women and older adults. Of the estimated 39.4 million adults who report persistent pain, 67.2% say their pain is “constantly present,” and 50.5% say their pain is sometimes “unbearable and excruciating.”

Pain is a major driver for visits to physicians, a major reason for taking medications, a major cause of disability, and a key factor in quality of life and productivity. Because pain varies from patient to patient, healthcare providers are increasingly tailoring pain care to each person’s experience.

According to the Institute of Medicine (IOM), “A cultural transformation is necessary to better prevent, assess, treat, and understand pain of all types.” Often, people who experience pain need assistance with self-management. There are several options for pain treatment including complementary and integrative therapies, lifestyle and behavioral interventions, counseling and rehabilitative and physical therapy. The IOM also recommends primary care physicians—who handle most frontline pain care—collaborate with pain specialists in cases where pain persists.

Vincent Martin, MD, Director of the UC Health Headache and Facial Pain Program and specialist in the Women’s Center says women and older adults experience more “every day” pain for a number of reasons including gender and age. We have effective tools and services to tackle the many factors that influence pain in women and it’s critical to apply them efficiently through an integrated approach tailored to each patient,” Martin says.

Headaches, back pain, neck pain and arthritis are just a few painful conditions women face. “Even when pain is chronic, we can work in partnership with you and your other care providers to help manage symptoms so they are less impactful on your daily life” says Sian Cotton, PhD, Director of the UC Health Center for Integrative Health and Wellness. Through a number of , evidence-based, complementary therapies Cotton’s team cares for the whole person—mind, body, spirit—and incorporates those to improve all aspects of a patient’s life. Integrative medicine physician consults, acupuncture, massage, yoga therapy, mindfulness groups, and reflexology are a few treatment modalities offered in the Women’s Center. Successful treatment, management, and prevention of pain require an integrated approach that responds to all the factors that influence pain.

Visit uchealth.com/women to learn more about pain management and integrative medicine. Appointments can be made by calling (513) 475-UC4U (8248).

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