Pain management is becoming a national priority in healthcare. In 2010, the National Institute of Health worked with the Health and Medicine Division on a study “to increase the recognition of pain as a significant public health problem in the United States.” 

Real change in understanding and dealing with patients with chronic pain resulted in having U.S. Department of Health and Human Services ask the Interagency Pain Research Coordinating Committee to create the National Pain Strategy. Recommendations included, but were not limited to the following. 

  • A better understanding of pain and its treatment in order to encourage timely care, improve medical management, and combat stigmatization; 
  • Increased scientific knowledge regarding the pathophysiology of pain; 
  • Chronic pain is a biopsychosocial condition that often requires integrated, multimodal, and interdisciplinary treatment, all components of which should be evidence-based;
  • Data are lacking on the prevalence, onset, course, impact, and outcomes of most common chronic pain conditions; 
  • Every effort should be made to prevent illnesses and injuries that lead to pain, the progression of acute pain to a chronic condition, and the development of high-impact chronic pain;
  • Significant improvements are needed to ensure that pain assessment techniques and practices are high-quality and comprehensive.

Coming on the heels of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain, the NPS will hopefully address some of the gaps not addressed in the CDC’s guidelines, including those in palliative care and exemptions for the nearly 14 million cancer survivors living in the United States.