Fast Facts about Neuropathic Pain and Chronic Pain
- Neuropathic pain is a particularly debilitating form of chronic pain that can rob people of their quality of life and the ability to sleep, work and undertake daily activities. Neuropathic pain results from injury or disease of the nerves, the spinal cord or the brain and has many causes, including multiple sclerosis, diabetes, AIDS, cancer and spinal cord trauma. More than one million Ontarians suffer with neuropathic pain.
- When you include other forms of chronic pain, the number of sufferers ranges from 20 to 30 per cent of the population or 2.4 to 3.6 million Ontarians.
- Chronic pain is a costly problem, not only to the patient but also to society as whole. The direct health care costs of dealing with chronic pain is estimated at $6 billion annually, while productivity costs related to job loss and sick days is a staggering $37 billion annually.
- There is very little awareness amongst policy makers, the insurance industry, medical professionals and the public about chronic pain.
- There is very little chronic pain education in Canadian medical schools and there is no formal training or certification for pain experts in Canada.
- On average, in medical and dental programs for example, less than 16 hours are devoted to pain and its management throughout the years of study, with veterinary students getting five times more training in pain than medical students.
- Ontario's current system for chronic pain care is uncoordinated and imbalanced, leaving many patients misdiagnosed, inappropriately or under treated, and suffering.
- Access to the best, evidence-based, treatment that are appropriate to each individual (medications, spinal cord stimulators, implantable pumps, psychological therapies, exercise therapy, etc.) are often unavailable or must be paid for out of pocket by the patient.
- Ontario urgently needs an overall provincial pain strategy that addresses the treatment of chronic pain through a comprehensive approach. Other Canadian jurisdictions, such as Nova Scotia, Quebec and Alberta, have embarked on comprehensive pain strategies, while British Columbia is currently working on its own comprehensive pain strategy.