Louisiana summer heat has been tough. But with September upon us, it's safe to say we are almost done with it. To every other person out there, September is just another month. But to anyone living with or who is part of the chronic pain community, including us here at Louisiana Pain Specialists, September is special because it is a pain awareness month. I
History of Pain Awareness Month
Chronic pain is among the leading reasons why adults seek medical assistance globally. It has been termed as the number one cause of disability and affects every one in five Americans. According to the CDC, about 20% (50 million) of American adults have been diagnosed with chronic pain, while 8% (20 million) others live with high-impact chronic pain. Other than reduced mobility, it has also been linked to anxiety and depression, increased reliance on opioids, and correlates to reduced quality of life.
But despite the prevalence of chronic pain and increased access to information in the modern era, there's a lot of stigma surrounding it. Those diagnosed with conditions such as fibromyalgia, complex regional pain syndrome, and other types of pain often find it challenging to explain why they are in pain because they do not exhibit any physical symptoms. The lack of such symptoms tends to make those who surround them believe it's all in the patient's head. For example, for years, CRPS had been categorized as a psychosomatic condition. This meant those diagnosed were made to believe that it's all in the mind.
It is for this reason that in 2001, a group of organizations led by the American Chronic Pain Association began a pain awareness campaign. Their campaigns saw over 80 other pain and wellness-related organizations join in. As a way to make a difference, they all agreed to make September the official pain awareness month. Two decades later, September as a pain awareness month isn't just a campaign restricted to American borders, but an international movement committed to raising awareness about chronic pain through mass media and other channels of communication.
How You Can Contribute to the Pain Awareness Movement
Anyone can make a difference this pain awareness month. If you live with, or know someone living with chronic pain, here's how you can help eradicate the stigma related to pain-related conditions:
- Educate Others
As noted, one of the main reasons why there's so much stigma surrounding chronic pain is because, unlike other conditions, most pain-related illnesses do not always exhibit physical pain. You can help eradicate this stigma by educating your friends, family, and others who may be in your circle about chronic pain. Talk about how it impacts one's wellbeing, as well as how it affects those around the person living with the condition. Let them know why September as a pain awareness month is so important to you, and encourage them to spread the message. Use every platform you get, including your social media, to advocate.
Other than educating others, you can also volunteer. For instance, if you know someone who has been diagnosed with high-impact chronic pain, for this month, you can offer to drive them to their routine checks, get them their prescriptions or help them with menial tasks around their home.
If you are part of a chronic pain support group or know of one, you can collaborate with it to raise awareness about pain-related conditions.
Chronic pain isn't just uncomfortable. It also affects the emotional and mental wellbeing of the patient. If you or a loved one are struggling with chronic pain, make an appointment with Louisiana Pain Specialists today so that we can help you or someone you love!