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Keywords:

  • Asia;
  • COX-2;
  • guidelines;
  • management;
  • musculoskeletal pain;
  • NSAIDs;
  • osteoarthritis;
  • rheumatoid arthritis

Abstract

Chronic pain is a complex problem that eludes precise definition and can be clinically difficult to diagnose and challenging to treat. In the Asia-Pacific region, prevalence estimates that chronic pain ranges from 12% to 45% of the population, with musculoskeletal, rheumatic or osteoarthritis pain making up the majority of the disease burden. Implementation of current management guidelines into routine clinical practice has been challenging and as a result, patients with musculoskeletal pain are often poorly managed. For these reasons, a multidisciplinary Chronic Pain Advisory Board of leading physicians from various Asian countries was convened to explore ways to improve treatment and compliance, especially among patients with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. We have identified a number of unmet therapeutic needs and prioritized initiatives with the potential to contribute toward a more integrated approach to chronic pain management. Key priorities included using evidence-based interventions as recommended by current guidelines, particularly those aspects pertinent to addressing treatment priorities in Asia (e.g., patient compliance), and the incorporation of cyclooxygenase-2 inhibitors and non-steroid anti-inflammation drugs into the management algorithms for osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Treatment must be individualized for each patient based on efficacy, side-effect profile and drug accessibility. Further studies are required to examine head-to-head comparisons among analgesics, combinations of analgesics and long-term efficacy outcomes. Our increasing understanding of the problem combined with the promise of new therapy options offers hope for improved management of musculoskeletal pain in Asian countries.