Aspirus Medical Monday: Pain Awareness Month

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UPPER PENINSULA, Mich. (WJMN) – September is Pain Awareness Month which provides an opportunity to understand more about the underlying causes of pain that can help improve treatments and alleviate suffering.

According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, nearly 100 million Americans experience chronic pain —more than those who have diabetes, heart disease, and cancer combined.

Dr. Kirk Klemme is an addiction and pain management physician at Aspirus Houghton Clinic. He explains why it’s important to bring awareness to chronic pain and how it relates to addiction.

“Pain affects a huge amount of people in this country. It’s a great source of disability, a loss of function, and people having difficulty in their lives. There can be a lot. There’s the pain itself which can decrease people’s function and people’s ability to perform their duties, to perform their activities, to take care of their families, to work at a job. All those things,” said Klemme. “Then there’s a secondary one of the big factors that has come up in the last ten years, fifteen years and that’s the opioid crisis and most people are aware of that. And of course, that’s a consequence of the management of pain or the nonmanagement of pain, mismanagement or however you want to say it.”

Dr. Klemme also explains the kinds of chronic pain and what causes them.

“Traditionally the kinds of pain, whether it’s muscular-skeletal pain. I like to think of it divided as acute or chronic pain. Acute is tissue and chronic pain where it becomes almost more of a neurological problem where there are changes in the nerves, changes in the spinal cord, and changes to the way the brain interprets that. Because the brain is still going to say hey something is wrong down there. Something bad is going to happen. One thing I tell people is there is nothing dangerous in your back right now.”

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