Chronic pain affects more people than cancer, diabetes, heart attack and stroke combined. The Institute of Medicine estimates there are more than 100 million sufferers in the United States, costing the nation as much as $635 billion a year in medical treatment and lost productivity.It’s even the focus of a new movie: “Cake,” starring Jennifer Anniston as a woman struggling with chronic pain, is scheduled for release Jan. 23. Chronic pain can be devastating, and a challenge to treat. As a mental health counselor, I have seen it damage productive lives and tear families apart.

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