Extent of Problem Today
Contrast Between Acute and Chronic Pain
Millions of Americans suffer from a disease for which no medical specialty exists. This condition is scarcely taught in medical schools, and in many cases doctors are unable to diagnose, treat or relieve the problem. The disease in question is chronic pain, usually defined as any type of persistent pain that lasts more than six months. Dr. John Bonica, professor of anesthesiology at the University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle and the founder of the nation's first chronic pain clinic, characterizes chronic pain as a “hidden epidemic.” “Nearly one-third of the [U.S.] population has persistent or recurrent chronic pain,” Dr. Bonica said, “and of those, one-half to two-thirds are either partially or totally disabled ...