The International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP) describes pain as an unpleasant personal experience that involves both a sensation and an emotion. We experience pain when we have an injury to our body, when we fear that an injury is impending and even in cases where there is no injury at all. In other words, pain is always personal and the person who feels the pain is the one who can best describe it.

What is chronic pain?

Chronic pain is pain that continues on beyond an acute episode. It is debilitating, affecting all areas of life. It is more than a symptom of a disease, illness or injury and becomes an illness unto itself.

There are an estimated 2.4 to 3.6 million Ontarians living with chronic pain. This includes neuropathic pain, arthritis, back pain, cancer pain and fibromyalgia. The costs of chronic pain to the Canadian economy have been estimated to be more than $6 billion a year in direct healthcare costs, and $37 billion per year in productivity costs related to job loss and sick days. This translates roughly into $2.1 billion and $13 billion respectively in Ontario. To put this value into perspective in relation to the healthcare costs of other disorders, it is as much as for cardiovascular disease or cancer, and twice as much as depression.