Institute of Medicine advocates for more chronic pain research and management

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Nearly 116 million adults in the United States live with chronic pain, at a cost of up to $635 billion each year in medical treatment and lost productivity, according to a new report.

Healthcare providers should customize pain care to each patient, and help chronic pain sufferers learn to exercise self-management skills, says the report, titled Relieving Pain in America: A Blueprint for Transforming Prevention, Care, Education, and Research. It calls on government agencies, healthcare providers, healthcare professional associations, educators, and public and private funders of healthcare to collect more data and research on chronic pain.

Among those who are often under diagnosed and under treated are those near the end of life, the report notes. Additionally, nursing home staff may see patients in pain from diseases such as arthritis, joint replacement, dementia or degenerative illness. The report notes that while insurance will cover surgery for pain patients, a plan might not cover rehabilitation or counseling. The report provides several guidelines and recommendations, including focusing on the prevention of pain and working with pain specialists.  
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