The Healthcare Crisis and Chronic Pain Is One In The Same
By Mitchell Yass, DPT – Stop the Pain I Want My Life Back
Over the past 10 years the cost of healthcare has skyrocketed.
This has led to this discussion being played out politically and in the media on how to pay for these costs. The costs have caused everybody’s insurance premiums to rise every year. In some cases, the cost of the premiums has become too expensive and people are being left with no health insurance. The debate seems to evolve around how to pay for the costs. The thing that is so enraging to me and to anybody who would look at the issue from a logical perspective is why has the question of the meteoric rise in costs never been examined?
Everyone agrees healthcare costs have risen but nobody has said is there a specific area of medicine driving the rise. Healthcare has been taken as being homogenous and therefore the rise in costs runs across the spectrum of specialties. Here is some food for thought. In the 70s and 80s, if you had heart trouble most likely at some point you were going to end up with coronary surgery. Now there are stints, angioplasties and medications that can control the function of the heart without every requiring expensive, invasive coronary surgeries. This would indicate that in the area of cardiovascular disease, the cost of healthcare has decreased. In the area of cancer treatment, the PSA test, colonoscopy and other tests have helping finding cancers at in an earlier stage. Better types of surgeries and treatments are leading to people suffering for shorter periods of time with cancer and more people actually becoming cancer free. Again, this would indicate that healthcare costs in this specialty should have decreased.
So what area of medicine could account for the absolute astronomical rise in health care costs and claims? That would be the area of chronic pain. Get a load of some of these numbers. In 2002, 50 million people suffered from chronic pain and it costs the country 70 billion dollars. In 2005, 70 million people suffered from chronic pain and it cost the country 120 billion dollars. In 2011, it was estimated that 116 million adult Americans suffered from chronic pain it is costs the country a whopping 635 billion dollars. To put this into perspective, the US economy is roughly 14 trillion dollars. Healthcare is estimated to be about 16% of the economy or 2.2 trillion dollars. That means that more than 1 out of every 4 dollars spent in healthcare now goes toward the treatment of chronic pain.
The entire issue of rising healthcare costs should be directed to the question of why has the cost of treating chronic pain gone from a messily 70 billion dollars a year in 2002 to 635 billion in 2011. The answer is clear and unambiguous. The mechanism for diagnosing the cause of chronic pain is invalid and therefore leads to unnecessary treatments that do nothing to resolve the cause of the pain. The MRI can not correlate positive findings such as herniated discs and stenosis at the spine to meniscal tears at the knee to rotator cuff tears at the shoulder. It is not to say that these findings don’t exist, it is simply to say that these variations of structure are not causing the pain experienced in the areas where these findings exist. Studies have shown that 70% of the population have herniated discs and no pain while numerous people with severe pain have no herniated discs. One study showed that 63% of people with knee pain had meniscal tears while 60% of people with no pain had meniscal tears. The evidence goes on and on. From a practical point of view, how many of you have been told that one of these structural variations were causing your pain and yet the surgeon said that they couldn’t guarantee that the pain would be eliminated with the surgery.
The use of epidural nerve blocks, cortisone shots laced with Lidocaine and pain medication with are staples of the medical establishment clearly do nothing to address a cause of pain. They simply attempt to mask the brains awareness of the pain.
If people don’t want to end up with rationed care because the attempt is made to simply reduce healthcare costs by minimizes the use of the system, you have to band together and beg and plead for somebody to simply ask the question, what is the reason that healthcare costs have risen over the past few years? If somebody looks even slightly, the answer will be starring them in the face. THE DIAGNOSISAND TREATMENT OF CHRONIC PAIN IS INVALID AND EATING UP MONEY LIKE THE MONSTER IT HAS BECOME. IF YOU ELIMINATE THE COST OF THE INVALID DIAGNOSTIC TESTS AND TREATMENTS THAT COULD NEVER RESOLVE THE CAUSE OF YOUR PAIN, THE HEALTH CARE CRISIS WOULD BE RESOLVED.
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