The Painful Truth: Lending a Voice to Pain

old man, arthritisAt the beginning of my medical career, I met a patient who would change the trajectory of my life. He was a World War I veteran who suffered from arthritis, causing an excruciating grinding noise whenever he bent his limbs. Despite having risked his life for his country, his pain was so excruciating that whenever I passed by his room, he would grab at me and tearfully beg, “Help me die. You’re a doctor—you can do it. I’d rather be dead than keep living with the pain.”

I could not help him then. But I vowed to spend the rest of my life fighting for people in pain.

This was the 1970s, when the medical field had enormous confidence in creating a solution for any medical problem. I too, believed we were on the brink of creating a treatment for any assault on human health and I concluded that it was only a matter of time before we would eradicate chronic pain.

Today, chronic pain is the most prevalent medical condition in the United States, with over 100 million people suffering every day – more than heart disease, diabetes and cancer combined. Despite this, the attitudes surrounding the condition have not improved much. In some ways, changes that are taking place in society right now – such as changes in health insurance that limit access to pain therapists – may even put people at greater risk than ever before. Millions of people have untreated or undertreated pain because they can either not find or afford quality medical treatment by a professional who understands their condition.

To create change, we must squarely face the reality of pain in our society. I want to call forth the emotions of both hope and unrest—hope because there is much that people in pain can do right now to feel better, unrest because we can’t settle for the status quo.

And so I wrote The Painful Truth, in hopes that it will act as a catalyst for change and be a symbol of peace in the lives of chronic pain patients across the U.S. I wrote it for all those in pain who need a loud voice standing in their corner. This is their book.

My book will be available for purchase in September. In the coming months, you will hear more about my book, a corresponding documentary, and the people who have greatly affected me along the way. In many ways, my career in medicine and research has led me to this point and you will be part of the call to action that this nation sorely needs.


  1. Micke Brown on May 29, 2015 at 9:31 am

    This is the book we in the pain community have been waiting for, written by one of our very best experts in the field. Thank you, Dr. Webster for using your voice to elevate the volume about those needlessly suffering in silence. TOGETHER–We must rise up and shout “No More”!

  2. bob gehm on May 31, 2015 at 1:19 am

    All that I can do is have faith that your efforts do not go unnoticed. Thanks

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