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Study: Chronic pain costs U.S. $558B a year

A new report finds at least 116 million U.S. adults experience long-lasting pain -- the kind that lingers for weeks to months. Too often, they feel stigma rather than relief from a health care system poorly prepared to treat them.

In its report, the Institute of Medicine says chronic pain is costing the nation at least $558 billion a year in medical bills, sick days and lost productivity.

The report calls effective pain management a moral imperative and urges a series of steps to transform the field. Barriers include health workers not properly trained to handle pain, and insurance that doesn't cover complex care. Law enforcement's fight against narcotic abuse also plays a role, but the report found that those medicines are safe and effective for the right patients. ---- AP

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