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According to the American Pain Foundation, more than 50 million Americans experience chronic pain. Back pain, headache, and joint pain caused by osteoarthritis are the most common chronic pain syndromes (Berman, 1997). The experience of chronic pain exacts a huge toll on the individual and the family. Pain may prevent a person from working, socializing, or enjoying a family life. It is associated with depressed mood and a poor quality of life. The consequences for society include lower productivity for businesses and a cost of billions of dollars each year.

The high prevalence of chronic pain, combined with its enormous cost, make unrelieved pain a huge public health problem. It is remarkable that so little attention has been focused on this problem in years past.

Fortunately, this is now changing. The U.S. government has designated the next ten years as the "Decade of Pain Control and Research". In the U.S., hospitals and nursing homes must meet new standards of pain management, and efforts are being made to educate professionals and the public at large about the nature of the problem and the potential for solutions. Similar things are happening in many other countries.

Many health care professionals are now recognizing that pain is complex and multidimensional. Patients with chronic pain require a careful evaluation and a treatment strategy that may incorporate a variety of distinct modalities.

Among the modalities that now are being explored as treatments for chronic pain are numerous approaches that usually are considered out of mainstream medicine-the so-called complementary and alternative medical treatments. Many specialists in pain management view the integration of traditional treatment approaches and a wide range of complementary and alternative medicine approaches as the ideal goal for many types of chronic pain. "Integrative Pain Therapy" is a term that has been used to describe this effort to link these traditional and nontraditional approaches.

This site explores the evolving boundaries of Integrative Pain Therapy.



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