At the start of the week of neuropathy, let’s give some attention to the Cinderella or chronic pain: neuropathic pain! It’s like walking on shards of glass, or even knives or nettles. And we’re talking about hundreds of thousands of patients in the United States. It’s regularly not treated properly, under valued, under treated and plainly ignored.

Here we give some attention to the subject, because it is a huge problem, for the patient as well as for the economy. In Europe alone, 500 million working days are lost for the economy, which costs about €34 billion yearly.

Here are some alarming facts concerning neuropathic pain.

  1. People with neuropathic pain are often told: ‘you will have to learn to live with it’. However, the treatment of neuropathic pain can often be improved! [1][2] [3] [4]
  2. Over 90% of patients with neuropathic pain are not treated properly in our country! [5] Half of the patients, for example, will be prescribed a ineffective painkiller, which will have side effects but no effect on neuropathic pain.
  3. The quality of life for neuropathic patients is often quite low, even with use of pain relief medicine. [6][7][8]
  4. Only 1 out of 5 patients seems to benefit from treatment by a specialized pain team. [9]
  5. The medical cost of diabetic polyneuropathy patients are significantly higher than patients without polyneuropathy. [10][11]In the United States they estimate the yearly cost for neuropathy patients at over $3.5 billion.
  6. Neuropathic pain can easily be misdiagnosed or simply seen as a sort of side effect to diabetes or cancer.

 

Chronic pain treatment

Of course, psychological support is important and methods like mindfulness are being discovered, as well as meditation and relaxation exercises. However in the area of treatment with pain medicine, next to nothing has changed. The large groups of medicine that are being used are basically the same, including anti-inflammatory medicine like ibuprofen, opioids, antidepressants like amitriptyline and anti-epileptics like gabapentin. The side effects of these continue to be a big problem, whereas the effectiveness leaves a lot to be desired.

Because of these reasons, it’s interesting to know that late 2010 a new pain reliever became available in the United States, officially labeled as medical dietary supplement. It concerns the substance palmitoylethanolamide, which is produced by the body itself and available as a supplement under the name PeaCure. On the link below you can find more information about the substance, which can be used by seniors and in combination with other medicine and is extremely easy on the stomach!