Rallying together to ease the pain: ACTION Ontario brings together patients and experts to discuss the needs of Ontarians with chronic pain
TORONTO, Nov. 9 /CNW/ - Veronica tripped on the playground and broke her ankle. Ann developed shingles. Will broke his toe in two places. These seemingly routine ailments should have been minor inconveniences, but for Veronica, Ann and Will, these incidents marked the beginning of an agonizing daily battle with chronic pain, which has altered the course of each of their lives.
The cause of all this pain is neuropathic pain, a type of pain that results from injury or disease of the nerves, spinal cord or the brain. More than one million Ontarians suffer from this type of pain as a result of multiple sclerosis, trauma to the spinal cord, diabetes, shingles, AIDS, breast cancer and a number of other conditions. Besides neuropathic pain, Ontarians are afflicted by other kinds of chronic pain resulting from injury or dysfunction of muscles, bones, ligaments, internal organs and many other causes. Collectively, chronic pain affects millions of Canadians.
"The number of people suffering from chronic pain in Canada is staggering," says Dr. Angela Mailis-Gagnon, chair of ACTION Ontario and founder and director of the Comprehensive Pain Program at the Toronto Western Hospital. "Our healthcare system is failing these patients. They're not being properly diagnosed and their pain is not being managed. We need to develop a strategy to help these patients regain their quality of life and be able to contribute in a meaningful way to society."
Neuropathic pain in particular, is so debilitating that patients are often unable to sleep, drive, work, or undertake normal daily activities. Patients with this condition visit doctors an average of 15 times a year, spend twice as many days in hospital and have three times more medical tests than people without neuropathic pain. It's estimated that the economic burden of the condition in Ontario alone is more than one billion dollars each year. The cost of all chronic pain is two to three times this figure for Ontario. This includes direct medical costs as well as indirect costs such as the loss of productivity and resource use.
To help to develop a strategy for the healthcare system to better meet the needs of people suffering from chronic pain, ACTION Ontario is hosting a symposium entitled Patient Input for System Change on the afternoon of November 9. The event will bring together patients, physicians and researchers to discuss current needs and share ideas to improve patient outcomes.
Veronica Dunlop will be just one of the many patients attending the symposium and sharing her story. At 17 years old, Veronica is one of the younger patients with neuropathic pain, but the condition affects those of all ages. After breaking her ankle at the age of 9, Veronica's life has been forever changed by her constant battle with pain.
"I spent the first four years following my injury being told by experts that there was nothing wrong with me. My pain is so severe that I have difficulty thinking and concentrating at school and I miss out on countless activities because I'm not able to do a lot of the things my friends do. My greatest wish is to be a normal teenager and I hope that I'm able to find a treatment which will end my suffering."
ACTION Ontario is urging the government to develop a comprehensive pain management strategy to help patients like Veronica regain their lives.
ACTION Ontario, a not-for-profit organization comprised of doctors, researchers, other healthcare professionals and patients, advocates on behalf of neuropathic pain sufferers. ACTION Ontario is committed to increasing awareness about the cost of neuropathic pain and to seeing improvements in the diagnosis and care of people with neuropathic pain. For more information, please visit www.actionontario.ca.
For further information:
Hill & Knowlton Canada
(416) 413-4765 (office)
(416) 518-6032 (cell)