In this year dedicated to back pain – a campaign of the International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP) – and after the World Day Against Pain (October 13), and the annual congress of the Spanish Pain Society. (SED), a conference with patients has served as a platform to expose the scope of this condition: one in six Spaniards lives with pain. It has also been the loudspeaker of patients, who rebel against incomprehension and invisibility, to show their reality to the rest of society.
The IASP began to organize a world day each year to sensitize governments, public and private institutions on the need for the necessary means to support research, diagnosis and treatment of pain. The World Health Organization (WHO) considers the treatment of pain a human right, and the European Pain Forum establishes that pain is a fundamental element in the experience of patients in healthcare systems.
The Spanish Pain Society reminds in its recommendations to patients that, although we all suffer pain on some occasions, there are many people who suffer from it for long periods of time. On the positive side, they remember that in the last decade there have been many scientific advances that allow better treatment, with partial and even complete relief in some cases.
The scientific society considers that chronic pain deserves special attention as a disease with its own rights. They explain that there are many diseases that are associated with pain, for example diabetes, disorders that affect the blood vessels, herpes and most types of cancer. The usual thing is that the effective treatment of the disease is sufficient for the pain to subside substantially, or to disappear, but this is not always the case.
When the pain does not improve, they recommend seeking advice from the Primary Care doctor. If the pain persists, he will refer you to the specialist he considers suitable. Beyond four weeks after a diagnosis and treatment by a specialist, it is considered a sufficient threshold to go to the pain specialist at one of the specialized units for the treatment of pain.
Many of them offer comprehensive treatment, with the involvement of a team from different disciplines: anesthesiologists, nurses and psychologists, as well as other specialist doctors who participate when necessary. These multidisciplinary teams have been implemented thanks to the greater recognition of pain as a cause of negative effects with a significant impact on the lives of patients.
During the patient conference called Your pain matters , precisely at the request of the representatives of people who live with pain, María Madariaga, anesthesiologist and coordinator of the event for the SED, lamented “the little understanding that the patients in the face of the recognized disability that is chronic pain “.
“Waiting lists are the greatest enemy of chronic pain patients”
As with many other chronic diseases, pain that lasts over time is a difficult condition to treat. Madariaga, in line with the SED recommendations, emphasized that it must be approached from a multidisciplinary point of view. In fact, he considers that “many times, coordination in pain care between different health professionals is the greatest challenge.”
It has also warned that training for the management of analgesic drugs and adjuvants (support) remains a pending issue. In his view, a key strategy is to continue working to grow and improve existing pain units, because “waiting lists are the greatest enemy of patients with chronic pain.”
Noah Higón, writer and patient with seven rare diseases, who participated in the conference, explained: “We patients have to dedicate a lot of time and effort to fight against misunderstanding.” María José Parra, a patient with chronic pain and also a participant in the meeting, values that the knowledge of the disease, understanding what happens in the body itself, can make a huge change and help to live better with the condition.
For his part, Pedro Soriano, a nurse and teacher at the head of the FFPaciente association, places great value on peer support as a way to combat the stigma of silence and misunderstanding. Your association offers this support, as well as resources based on scientific evidence, and creates collaborative networks between healthcare professionals and patients or caregivers.
In your opinion, ” Virtual patient communities teach us professionals to be up-to-date and have greater sensitivity in the way we communicate with them. Without a doubt, it is a resource, a way of acquiring knowledge that is rarely in the books, “he pointed out.