Chronic pain is not a symptom, but a long-term, systemic dysfunction that is often generative. One in five North Americans have chronic pain, according to conservative estimates (Canadian Pain Society).
Chronic pain is difficult to diagnose and treat. Often, patients will see numerous physicians over many years. In Canada, veterinarians receive three times more for education in treating pain than do physicians.
Generally, chronic pain is treated by anesthesiologists or pain centres. Interdisciplinary pain centres, while not widespread, have been at the forefront of multi-disciplinary teams of healthcare providers who work together to treat a patient holistically. Canadian patients, on average, wait for 4-5 years before they can be seen in these centres (Vancouver Sun, 2009). In other so-called developed countries, pain has been established as the “fifth vital sign,” and national initiatives have recently risen in importance.
Because Health Canada still does not recognize chronic pain as a disease in its own right, interdisciplinary treatment centres, research, and disability compensation remain low. For these reasons, the Canadian Pain Society has termed chronic pain “the silent epidemic.”
Our research team is working to address these issues, and many are also working to increase public and governmental awareness.