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Pain Relief

Thank you so much for "Healing the Hurt" and "Living with Pain" [March 7]. Those of us who suffer chronic pain are often met with skepticism and prejudice. It is refreshing to see an article in which doctors admit they aren't yet very good at treating chronic pain. A recent Canadian study showed that the majority of interviewed physicians saw patients with fibromyalgia as "malingerers." Recognition of chronic pain as a real problem is a first step toward trying to solve it.

Sharon Davis, FREMONT, CALIF.

As a retired physician and a person living with chronic intractable pain, I can wholeheartedly say that you covered every base--save one. Not one mention of the American Pain Foundation? We are the first and largest organization of its kind in the world.

Patrick McGahen, MILFORD, CONN.

Many doctors who treat chronic-pain patients are so worried about addiction that they undermedicate. If the physician prescribed enough pain medication, the stress of running out early, rationing and looking for alternative sources, known as pseudoaddiction, would be gone. None of us want to have to take medications, but you do what you have to in order to function. My neurologist has said that undermedicating chronic-pain patients is akin to withholding insulin from a Type 1 diabetic. I thank God every day that my doctor is not only brilliant but also compassionate.

Julia E. Hail, RIDGECREST, CALIF.

Emily Dickinson said something more fundamental about human pain in a few words than what has been written in all the articles on the subject: "Pain has an element of blank;/ It cannot recollect/ When it began, or if there was/ A time when it was not."

Hilbert Campbell, CHRISTIANSBURG, VA.

Re your report "Beyond Drugs" [March 7]: The writer reveals his prejudice about the principles of acupuncture when he associates the needling of cure spots along the meridians with "shamanistic rituals." The efficacy of the meridian-needling approach yields compelling clinical evidence. It must be accompanied by the occurrence of deqi, a responsive phenomenon of the ailing body that can be induced only by an experienced professional.

Daan Pan, CHINO HILLS, CALIF.

Tragedy's Roots

Re "A Soldier's Tragedy" [March 7]: I came away thinking the writer blames the National Guard for being unable to repair a badly damaged human being. The tragedy is the poor decision made by President Bush, Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney and millions of Americans to send this young boy to war in the first place. It's too bad we can't fix all the broken returning soldiers or even the "collateral damage" overseas, but the problem is not that we can't fix them but that we chose to send them in the first place.

John Arndt, SAN ANSELMO, CALIF.

This calamity is much larger than one soldier. It is devastating for all Americans, and similar tragedies will happen as long as Washington continues to try to remake Middle Eastern countries in the image of the U.S.

Don Decker, HOLLAND, OHIO

State of the Unions

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