Although 25 percent of adult Americans suffer from a chronic pain condition, patients in pain are a neglected and under-treated group compared to patients suffering from other medical disorders. Annually, about 50 percent of Americans seek medical care for pain, making it the most common reason for consulting a physician. (14) This apparent surge in pain conditions has finally led the health care community to recognize pain as the fifth vital sign, after temperature, heart rate, blood pressure and respiratory rate. Having a basic understanding of the body’s pain mechanisms can help you to accurately describe your symptoms and discuss treatment options with your health care provider.
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