American Pain Society Releases New Clinical Guideline for Treatment Of Arthritis Pain

BALTIMORE, MD — March 15, 2002 — The American Pain Society (APS), the leading United States professional organization devoted to pain management, today released its new clinical guideline for treating acute and chronic pain associated with arthritis, a chronic disease that afflicts one in six Americans.

Introduced at a news conference at the organization's annual scientific meeting here, the new APS guideline strongly emphasizes that arthritis pain is best treated through a combination of ongoing pain assessment, medication, proper nutrition, exercise and patient and family education.

Developed by a prestigious panel of experts in arthritis pain management, the APS Guideline for the Management of Pain in Osteoarthritis, Rheumatoid Arthritis and Juvenile Chronic Arthritis is the first multidisciplinary, evidence-based clinical guideline for treatment of arthritis pain. It is intended for use by physicians, nurses and other healthcare professionals who treat adults and children with arthritis.

"Research shows that the under treatment of pain in adults and children can have many serious consequences, including physiological complications, such as muscle breakdown and weakness; psychosocial impairments, including anxiety and depression; and an overall decrease in quality of life," said Ashburn. "The APS Guideline, therefore, will help practitioners and patients better understand acute and chronic pain brought on by this disease and learn when to use various treatments to manage the their patients' pain."

"Acute arthritic pain should be approached in the same manner as other types of pain by attempting to remove or modify the underlying cause, giving appropriate analgesics and reducing fears that may exacerbate pain," said Ada K. Jacox, PhD, RN, chair of the APS Clinical Guideline Development Committee. "Chronic arthritis pain, however, is more complex since it involves interactions among the biological, psychological and social factors that influence pain and function."

"Arthritis is one of the most expensive and debilitating diseases in the US, and the Guideline recognizes that this condition can adversely impact earning potential, function and lifestyle," said Arthur Lipman, Pharm.D., co-chair of the APS Guideline Committee. "Therefore, accurate assessment and management of pain requires differentiation of the types and causes of pain and an understanding of the patients' willingness to adhere to therapy and remain active."

Arthritis is a generic term that refers to more than 100 conditions, the most common is osteoarthritis (OA), a disease that occurs with aging and affects 8 in 10 men and women older than 75. OA primarily effects cartilage and impairs the function of weight-bearing joints. It can result from excessive or repetitive loading of a joint from work-related activity, trauma, inflammation and joint pressure over time caused by chronic obesity.

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is the second most prevalent form of the disease. It is a destructive and debilitating systemic condition in which the body's immune system attacks healthy joint tissue, causing inflammation and subsequent joint damage. RA strikes women more frequently than men, has peak incidence between the ages of 20 to 50 years old, and occurs in up to 2 percent of adults.

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