Is a “Stiff Upper Lip” Seriously the Only Option When in Pain?

Mature woman crying

(DGIwire) — Chronic lower back pain has become a common complaint. Does this mean we should just resign ourselves to a stiff lower dorsum and keep a stiff upper lip? The answer is no, because when back pain becomes constant, it can lead to serious consequences. Since chronic lower back pain is difficult to diagnose and treat effectively, it lingers—and questions can arise about just how much pain actually exists. This skepticism, in turn, can alter how one interacts with and relates to the world. The main problem is that people can’t see tangible evidence of back pain. Sometimes even x-rays and MRIs can’t identify the problem. Meanwhile, there’s no visible bandage that would give us permission to complain about pain.

In a recent article on, Rob Froud, Senior Research Fellow at the University of Warwick (UK), outlines how back pain has been historically addressed, and concludes that doctors might not be measuring the most important element. Originally there was a focus on mobility; if a patient could move, he or she was considered clinically healthy even if they were still in pain. Later, doctors worked on decreasing pain and improving function. Currently, Froud says, patients with back pain might be offered advice, the drug acetaminophen, group exercise, manual therapy and acupuncture as possible remedies. The problem with this focus, says Froud, is that it ignores the secondary psychosocial effects of back pain, isolation and depression, which might ultimately be more difficult and expensive to treat than a bad back. Froud concludes that initially taking more time to diagnose the cause and then finding the best way to relieve pain will improve the patient’s quality of life and reduce overall costs.

Commenting on the issue, Mark A. Sirgo, Pharm.D., President and Chief Executive Officer of BioDelivery Sciences International, Inc. (BDSI), a specialty pharmaceutical company addressing the challenge of chronic pain disorders such as lower back pain., says “The market opportunity for an opioid with a lower propensity for abuse and addiction continues to expand. Doctors, patients and their caregivers need new options that accomplish the goal of pain relief so patients can cope, yet reduce the likelihood of addiction so they can function.”