Chronic fatigue syndrome, endometriosis, fibromyalgia, interstitial cystitis, temporomandibular disorders and vulvodynia are just six comorbid conditions of a cluster of poorly understood and neglected pain conditions. These six affect as many as 50 million women and cost as much as 80 billion dollars annually in direct and indirect costs – much wasted because of the lack of diagnostics, safe and effective treatments and scientific understanding of these conditions.
Agencies within the Department of Health and Human Services should see to it that research on these conditions be significantly expanded and made more efficient and effective through collaborative interdisciplinary research across these pain conditions.
They should also launch an aggressive multi-year awareness campaign which includes the most current scientific information on the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of these disorders to educate health care professionals, patients and the American public.
Without scientific discovery there will be no change in the hit and miss treatment patterns that exist today. Without professional education, women in pain will continue to be discriminated against.Without awareness, the stigma will go on.
Tens of millions of Americans are looking to you to lay out a bold set of recommendations that will ultimately lead to better care and we need a concerted and coordinated effort to address their needs. Equity demands no less.
You have a historic opportunity to send a strong message that this country takes chronic pain conditions that solely or disproportionately impact women seriously and recognizes the tremendous toll that they take on women, their families and our nation. You can redefine how our nation confronts what is an epidemic of chronic pain.