Chronic pain can be difficult to explain to others because the condition does not exhibit any significant physical symptoms. Patients are sometimes faced with unsupportive colleagues or loved ones who believe the pain is "in their head." Consequently, many of the 50 million Americans who suffer from chronic pain do so silently; they hide their pain because of the stigma surrounding it. To help change this, each September we recognize and celebrate National Pain Awareness Month, a time to encourage discussions, promote education and raise awareness about pain-related issues.
The History of Pain Awareness Month
In early 2001, a group of organizations noticed the growing need to offer more education on pain management. Wanting to make a difference, these groups established September as the official Pain Awareness Month. They hoped this month would bring not only a greater understanding of pain, but greater support to individuals suffering from pain, their families, communities and the general public. Their goal was to raise public awareness around chronic pain and pain management by bringing all of those in pain – and in the pain community – together.
Let’s Talk About Pain
One way of shedding light on the issues surrounding chronic pain is to encourage the community to speak up and share their stories and experiences. After all, we can’t spread awareness without sharing words. That’s why the Pain Awareness Month theme for 2019 is "Let’s Talk About Pain."
The Pain Center is committed to advocating for patients in pain, and is proud to provide a platform for patients to share their experiences and show their support. And while our board certified pain physicians may provide treatment options and offer comfort from your pain, here are a few ways you can bring awareness to others:
Advocate. Talk to your friends and family about what this month means to you, and encourage them to tell your story. You can also call your local government, community leaders or local media and tell them about this month and encourage them to help support the cause.
Volunteer. The benefits are endless for those who volunteer for other chronic pain patients. Volunteering can boost your mood knowing you’re helping others. This simple task also spreads the message that yes, even though chronic pain patients don’t appear physically sick, they require just as much care as others suffering from physical chronic illnesses. Visit the American Chronic Pain Association to find out how you can volunteer your time.
Write. If your pain drains your energy, try writing. Online news outlets and blogs may be interested in your story and accept an opinion piece. Or, share your experience with your social network (you can even update your profile photo to show your support for Pain Awareness Month). Nobody understands the lifestyle of a chronic pain patient better than a chronic pain patient! Sharing your experiences may bring value to other people’s lives.
Collaborate. If you attend a support group, or know of other people suffering from chronic pain, you could get together to raise awareness. Because pain affects so many people, there are many different communities and organizations you can reach out to. You could organize a meet-up for pain patients and let everyone know that you’re all in this together!