Faculty and Staff

Maixner Provides Testimony to U.S. Senate on Chronic Pain

On February 15, Dr. Bill Maixner provided testimony at the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) hearing entitled Pain in America: Exploring Challenges to Relief. At the UNC School of Dentistry, Maixner serves as the director of the Center for Neurosensory Disorders (CNSD), co-director of the Pain Management Program and professor in the Department of Endodontics.

Chronic pain disorders, which are estimated to affect 116 million Americans, are generally considered among the most difficult chronic conditions to treat despite pain symptoms being one of the top reasons patients visit the doctor. The hearing was convened to obtain information about ongoing research efforts as well as current and future treatment methods which will improve quality of life for people with chronic pain disorders.

“More than 100 million of our fellow citizens are experiencing a silent, hidden and poorly-treated epidemic,” Maixner said of pain disorders during his testimony.

Maixner’s testimony to the HELP Committee focused on the June 2011 Institute of Medicine(IOM) report on chronic pain, Relieving Pain in America, as well as current barriers impeding the improvement of care for those with chronic pain disorders. He cited three major barriers to adequately treating chronic pain patients: lack of research funding/efforts for pain disorders; lack of defined education track to produce pain disorder experts; and lack of proportionate care cost reimbursements for patients. During his remarks, Maixner also proposed a number of recommendations to the HELP Committee on how to overcome these obstacles.

“Addressing and breaking through these barriers will not only improve the human condition, but will fuel new economic opportunities and job creation that will endure well into the 21st century,” said Maixner. “The tools and pathways needed to conquer the hidden epidemic of chronic pain are now before us. … All that is required is to hear and to act upon the voice of those who suffer from this epidemic.”

During the hearing, Maixner was joined by four other pain experts: Lawrence A. Tabak, D.D.S., Ph.D., principal deputy director at National Institutes of Health; Philip A. Pizzo, M.D., dean of theStanford University School of Medicine; John E. Sarno, M.D., professor of clinical rehabilitation medicine at the New York University School of Medicine; and Christin Veasley, executive director of the National Vulvodynia Association.

To see complete footage of the U.S. Senate HELP Committee hearing, click here.