Millions of people around the world suffer every day from chronic pain. The World Health Organization estimates that 20% of people worldwide have some form of chronic pain. This includes fibromyalgia, back pain, neck pain, chronic fatigue syndrome, TMJ disorder, sciatica and more.
According to pharmaceutical industry data, pain is a $13.2 billion market. Not only is pain medicine costly, but chronic pain is also often the cause of lost wages. In the U.S., it’s estimated that over 140 million days are lost to work because of back pain. The annual totals of both direct and indirect costs for chronic pain in the U.S. are estimated to be as high as $294.5 billion per year.
This means the costs of health care for patients with chronic pain might exceed the combined costs of treating patients with coronary artery disease, cancer and AIDS.
Severe chronic pain is often treated with opioid narcotics, such as Vicodin and Percocet, and analgesics, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen. Opiates and narcotics are effective in relieving severe pain, but they are highly addictive and have significant harmful side effects. Analgesics are not addictive but are usually inadequate for reducing or eliminating pain.
Additionally, long-term use of analgesics can develop serious side effects including stomach bleeding, liver damage and kidney damage.