Millions of Seniors Living Needlessly with
Chronic Nerve Pain
Dr. Andres Taleisnik, The Hand Care Center, Orange, CA
Each year more and more Baby Boomers retire expecting to take advantage of their golden years pursuing their life-long hobbies and dreams. However, many – crippled with pain - come to the realization that their bodies just won’t support their thirst for life and adventure. According to the Society of Neuroscience, it is estimated that 100 million Americans – many of them Baby Boomers – suffer needlessly with chronic pain rather than receiving treatment. For many Baby Boomers, they assume their pain is just part of growing older and accept it and its limitations without question.
However, according to the Neuropathy Association, for about a fifth of these patients--approximately 20 million--the pain is caused by peripheral neuropathy or nerve damage that can be easily diagnosed--and sometimes treated--right in their doctor's office. Peripheral neuropathy which includes such common ailments as carpal tunnel syndrome and sciatica is caused by damage to the peripheral nerves and disrupts the body’s ability to communicate with its muscles, organs and tissues. Neuropathy often causes unusual or unpleasant irritations including tingling, burning, itchiness, dizziness and clumsiness.
Traditionally, patients with symptomatic pain had to be referred to a neurologist to determine whether their pain was caused by nerve damage. This additional diagnostic path was difficult for many patients because of the additional time and expense required, often resulting in delayed diagnosis making treatment and management more difficult. Now, those suffering from nerve pain can be diagnosed right in their doctor's office with a new, less invasive nerve conduction test – the NC-stat test.
Many patients, especially Baby Boomers, tend to ignore pain and procrastinate before telling their physician because they think it is “normal aging” or don’t want to deal with the hassle of being diagnosed and treated. For these patients with neuropathies such as carpal tunnel and sciatica, by delaying treatment, it is more difficult to treat and correct their peripheral neuropathy. When these neuropathies are caught earlier, often less invasive treatments are more likely to work and ease pain so Baby Boomers can return to an active, pain-free lifestyle.
With new, more-convenient tests like the NC-stat and improved treatment options for neuropathies like physical therapy and surgery, more Americans could be living without painful neuropathy. However, 20 million Americans are still living with a form of neuropathy - a chronic pain that can be usually effectively treated and relieved. Raising greater awareness about neuropathies will help millions suffering with chronic pain get the help they need to enjoy their lives and in many cases their retirement.