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Pain and Humanity

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Type: Blog Articles

Author: Rachel@FTP



Pain is a necessary but unpleasant fact of human life. All of us will experience pain at some point, and for most of us this pain will abate and we will return to normality.

For the unlucky few this is not the case. Chronic pain can affect every part of a person's life, debilitating and overwhelming, resulting in poor quality of life and relentless suffering.

As modern medicine advances we are slowly managing pain better and whilst most people can manage with paracetamol, ibuprofen, or aspirin, there more targeted drugs available for chronic pain that can help alleviate serious symptoms and make life more manageable.

But how much focus should we be putting on pain? The global burden of healthcare is increasing and with an increasing aged population the cost of healthcare is rising. We are victims of our own success. Pain may be debilitating, but it is not fatal and is there an argument against costly management of symptoms at the expense of prolonging life? Is a longer life necessarily the marker of a successful outcome?

At FTP we believe that quality of life is paramount. Whilst longevity is also undoubtedly important we feel that there is an intrinsic value in enjoying life. This is reflected in the range of products we invest in, whether it be for urology health, pain, or women's health the products all increase quality of life and healthiness.

A special interest of ours is in pain; as such a complicated and subjective experience to the patient the value of treating pain is multifaceted. One of the most interesting types of pain we have come across is chronic bladder pain - also called interstitial cystitis (IC).

Symptoms of IC vary among individuals, and are often misdiagnosed as urinary tract infections (UTI). Unlike UTIs the pain from interstitial cystitis will persist long after symptoms disappear, and can include:

  • Mild or intense pain in the bladder and surrounding pelvic region (including the penis and scrotum in men)
  • Urgent need to urinate, even if there is little or no urine present and the patient has just urinated
  • More frequent need to urinate
  • Painful sexual intercourse and reduced libido

IC affects up to 3.5% of adult women and up to 1.5% of men (US figures), with average age of onset just 40 years of age. A correct diagnosis is reported to take up to four years, after which treatment is limited - current options include OTC or prescribed analgesics or anti-depressants, and recommended drugs may take up to 4 months before any improvement is noticed (and do not work in 70% of patients). In extreme circumstance some patients are forced to resort to radical surgery and bladder removal.

A recent 2014 study by Beckett et al showed that sufferers were more likely to have reduced earning potential and to stop working prematurely, showing that as well as the unpleasant symptoms this disease is capable of affecting the professional lives of sufferers as well as impacting their personal relationships and well-being.

So what does this leave the majority of patients who have to continue to live with chronic pain with limited options for medical intervention?

Sadly, there is no current 'cure all' solution that will work for all patients though there are pain management techniques and lifestyle adjustments that may lessen symptoms. By working with healthcare professionals and trying a variety of treatments hopefully most sufferers will find a treatment that offers some relief, however it is crucial that pharmaceutical companies and research institutions look at new treatments and pain relief for those suffering in order for them to enjoy a healthy and pain-free lifestyle.

Research and clinical trials for IC are ongoing - some of these will be directed at better treatment and some focused on better diagnosis. With advancing technology and knowledge there is hope that management of this disease will soon improve, and for our part at FTP we will continue to seek out new innovations and treatments that improve the lives of patients worldwide.

If you suspect you are suffering with IC then please get in touch with your healthcare provider. There is lots of support for sufferers worldwide, and some useful links are included below.

UK: http://www.cobfoundation.org/

US: http://www.ichelp.org/page.aspx?pid=585

Worldwide: http://www.ichelp.org/page.aspx?pid=387