Advancing Research
Changing Lives

The Politics of Pain

Christin Veasley, Director of the Chronic Pain Research Alliance, was interviewed by Proto Magazine for the article entitled Politics of Pain which was published, October 2, 2015.  The following is an excerpt from this article. To read the full article, click here.

“”We don’t want this [National Pain Strategy] to be another federal report that gets published and shelved,” says contributor Christin Veasley, co-founder of the Chronic Pain Research Alliance, one of the 16 organizations that comprise the Consumer Pain Advocacy Task Force. The coalition includes representatives of constituencies for particular kinds of pain-The TMJ Association and the National Fibromyalgia & Chronic Pain Association-as well as other broader groups such as the Pain Action Alliance to Implement a National Strategy (PAINS). And while such wide-ranging support for a national policy on pain could ultimately help make it happen, it remains to be seen whether the broad cooperation that went into creating the draft report can be harnessed to put its recommendations into place.

PAIN IS ONE OF THE top reasons most people see their doctors. Lower back pain is the most prevalent, followed by severe headaches or migraine, and neck pain. Yet most physicians are poorly equipped to manage such problems, and a recent study of North American medical schools found that only four U.S. programs had required courses on pain.

Pain research, too, has lagged. Calls to add a pain institute at the National Institutes of Health led instead to expanding the role in 2003 of the NIH Pain Consortium, which had been established seven years earlier, to increase pain research, funding and collaboration. Today, the panel includes representatives from 17 NIH institutes and four centers. NIH funding for pain studies remains comparatively small, with $514 million estimated for 2016, far short of the $5.5 billion allocated to cancer research or the $1.2 billion for heart disease. “Investment right now is less than four dollars per American who is dealing with pain,” says Veasley, who herself has chronic pain caused by a car accident when she was a teenager.”