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Pain has reemerged as a major public health issue. This reemergence primarily results from the sharp rise in opioid-related deaths in the United States over the last two decades.

Pain is extremely common, especially in the United States.

The high incidence and prevalence of pain leads to increased use of healthcare resources, poorer perception of health status, lower productivity, and increased antidepressant use. These high burdens of acute pain are dwarfed, however, by the burdens of chronic pain, which can result when acute pain is not effectively treated. Effective treatment of acute pain can minimize the sensitization of pain pathways and tissue damage that lead to chronic pain.

Accurately assessing acute pain is key to diagnosis and treatment. Improved understanding of individuals’ pain experience has evolved, resulting in a shift in thinking about how pain is assessed. A comprehensive, multidimensional assessment that better characterizes the pain, the individual, and environment would likely improve acute pain diagnosis and treatment.

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