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Meet Dr Pain . . . he'll know just how you feel

PAIN Medicine is on track to be recognised as a new medical specialty here – the first country in Europe to do so.

More than 400,000 people in this country suffer from chronic pain on a daily basis and for 80,000 of these the pain is on a very severe level.

The Medical Council has just launched a programme of consultation to recognise Pain Medicine as a separate medical specialty to allow doctors to pursue specialist training and registration in the discipline.

They will then be considered a pain consultant in hospitals and the main point of contact for a patient in severe pain.

John Lindsay, vice chairman of Chronic Pain Ireland, welcomed the decision saying it will address a huge problem.

He points to a TCD study which reckoned that pain costs the Irish economy €5.6bn a year. "Chronic pain is the single biggest health issue in the developed world greater than cases of cancer and diabetes combined throughout Europe."

By creating the new specialty Ireland is pioneering the development of pain medicine said Mr Lindsay.

While a treatment regime for pain evolved out of anaesthesia, it is now recognised that the condition requires its own specialist treatment. This involves not just medication but procedures like spinal stimulation. "You have to treat the person physiologically and psychologically," says Mr Lindsay.

If the new Pain Medicine specialty is established here it means"undergraduate and post-graduate medical education will change completely.