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The Problem of Pain
The body’s primary distress signal, designed to warn about injury or
By Lisa James
For Kimberley McCoy of Lakewood, Colorado, pain had practically become a way of life. “I was in a couple of car accidents, one of which was pretty severe. I worked for about 10 years in construction and another 12 in warehousing. All of that took a major toll on my body,” says McCoy, 42, who now works as a corporate trainer.
It’s not like she hasn’t tried to find relief. “I have done a ton of stuff: acupuncture, chiropractic, massage therapy, physical therapy,” McCoy says. “I have a TENS unit (a low-intensity electrical nerve stimulator), medication for when the pain gets really bad. All of that helped a tiny little bit, but it just made the pain go away for a while.”
McCoy’s story isn’t unusual. In a survey conducted by the Clarus Research Group, 46% of respondents suffered from pain at least several times a week; 17% said their pain was either “bad” or “severe.” Another survey in North Carolina found that rates of lower back pain have more than doubled since the early 1990s, a result the researchers believe may represent a national trend (Archives of Internal Medicine 2/9/10).
Serious pain can have serious consequences. It has been linked with digestive problems, poor wound healing, increased risk of blood clots and, in seniors, an increased risk of falling. People in their 50s who suffer from chronic pain have the physical limitations of pain-free people in their 80s (Journal of the American Geriatric Society 9/09).