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Chronic pain sufferers significantly impacted by COVID-19, UW Health says

(NBC15)
Published: Jun. 30, 2020 at 5:51 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) – While compounding economic, education, housing and financial issues, COVID-19 has also seriously impacted those who suffer from chronic pain, according to UW Health.

For those afflicted with chronic pain, any disruption in care can cause complications, so when the pandemic hit the U.S., hospitals and clinics, including those at UW Health, had to make serious changes to in-person care. For some patients, this meant battling pain alone, away from the clinic.

According to UW Health, incidence pf pain has increased significantly due to changes related to COVID-19 and stress caused by the pandemic. UW Health reports calls to the UW Health Pain Management Clinic increased 50 to 70 percent in the early days of the pandemic.

“While patient consultations continued via telehealth, those with non-emergency pain had to manage with alternatives like over-the counter medications, adjustments to current medication or seeking prescriptions for potentially addictive opioid medications,” said Dr. Alaa Abd-Elsayed, medical director of the UW Health Pain Management Clinic, and assistant professor of anesthesiology at the UW School of Medicine and Public Health.

If pain goes untreated, it can cause anxiety, depression, loss of sleep, inability to work and diminished quality of life, according to a recent paper co-authored by Abd-Elsayed in the journal of Anesthesia and Analgesia.

For pain caused by underlying conditions, a delay in care risks dangerous consequences, making it doubly difficult for chronic pain patients, Abd-Elsayed said.

Luckily, the UW Health Pain Management Clinic is up and running again

“We are open and implore our patients to come in and be treated,” Abd-Elsayed said. “Waiting will only prolong the suffering and accelerate other conditions that may be causing some of this pain.”

Copyright 2020 WMTV. All rights reserved.

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