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The National Center for Health Statistics reports 26% of Americans over the age of 20 have had a problem with pain. According to the Pain Management Research Institute estimate that the treatment for pain cost $1.85 billion per 1 million people.

Michael J Counsins AM, MD, DSc, professor and director of the Pain Management Research Institute, University of Sydney, Royal North Shore Hospital, Australia suggest that if pain persists despite reasonable treatment from a primary care physician and/or other specialists, then a pain medicine specialist should be sought. The earlier a patient gets help for their pain the greater their chance of returning to a reasonable range of life activities.

Counsins feels the future of diagnosis and treatment of persistent pain will be markedly different. Drugs that are used to provide symptomatic relief, like morphine, will be replaced by–or supplemented with–a new generation of therapies targeted at the disease process. He feels that not enough pain specialists are being trained leaving pain patients with insufficient access to effective treatments.

According to Counsins, pain management needs to become a fundamental human right; a bundle of initiatives well be needed in Medicine, Law, Ethics, and Politics to accomplish this goal.