Tangled up in Blue: The Complexity of Chronic Pain

Published: March 18, 2015

Chronic pain constitutes a serious health, social and economic issue worldwide. A 2011 Institute of Medicine Report noted that more than 100 million Americans meet the criteria for a chronic pain diagnosis, which leads to more than 500 billion dollars in direct and indirect medical costs annually. Beyond the numbers, chronic pain is an enormous burden on quality of life for the individual. Moreover, treatment options are often characterized by an incomplete efficacy and/or dose limiting side effects. Neuroscience can contribute to better understanding the mechanisms that turn acute pain into chronic pain, assessing the long-term impact that chronic pain has on the brain, and the benefits and risks of various treatment options. This event reports on recent findings from neuroscience and medicine that are influencing views on pain management and helping guide decisions on treatments, better approaches to educating health professionals, and in policymaking. Presenters: David Borsook, M.D., Ph.D., Professor of Anaesthesia P.A.I.N. Research Group, Boston Children’s Hospital at Waltham; Edward Bilsky, Ph.D., Professor of Pharmacology, College of Osteopathic Medicine, Vice President for Research and Scholarship, University of New England; David Thomas, Ph.D., Deputy Division Director, Division of Clinical Neuroscience and Behavioral Research, National Institute on Drug Abuse,National Institutes of Health; Cindy Steinberg,National Director of Policy & Advocacy, U.S. Pain Foundation, Chair, Policy Council, Massachusetts Pain Initiative