A new understanding of how chronic pain differs from acute is paving the way
for alternative therapies.
When Karen Brannen moved to Central Oregon four years ago, she was just about
ready to throw in the towel. A series of car accidents over 25 years left her
with severe, debilitating pain. She had been on disability for at least six
weeks three times in the previous six years.
“I was considering going on permanent disability and just giving up,” the 54-year-old
La Pine woman said. “My strategy with pain was always to ignore it until it
got to the point that I couldn't get out of bed. I just didn't know what else
According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, Brannen
is not alone. Some 90 million Americans experience chronic pain, and many struggle
daily to find any relief. Researchers now understand that chronic pain is a
completely different animal from the acute pain experienced when you stub a
toe or burn yourself. That understanding is helping health practitioners find
new ways to help people cope with their chronic pain. Continue