September is observed as National Pain Awareness Month in the United States with the goal of promoting education, advocacy and awareness about chronic pain conditions and break down the barriers to effective pain management. According to reliable sources, about 100 million Americans experience chronic pain – more than those who have diabetes, heart disease and cancer combined.
Living with chronic pain can be debilitating and significantly affect day-to-day living. Pain could be due to various medical conditions such as fibromyalgia, cancer, sciatica, and back-related issues. It can disrupt sleep patterns, increase irritability and affect both memory and cognitive function (in older adults).
The month-long pain awareness campaign is based on the fact that chronic pain can be more fittingly treated and managed when it is readily recognized and better understood, without the traditional stigma attached. The effort targets health care providers, legislators, business organizations, and the general public.
Observing Pain Awareness Month was started off by the American Chronic Pain Association (ACPA) in 2001. ACPA established partners for understanding pain and eighty healthcare professionals and consumer organizations supported this event aimed at recognizing those living with pain and spreading awareness about this complex but common condition. The American Chronic Pain Association (ACPA) has developed tool kits for use in spreading awareness about the condition. These tool kits provide information for collaborating with nurses, healthcare professionals, consumers, community leaders and officials to ensure that people who suffer from pain have proper access to effective pain therapies.
Individuals and organizations can promote Pain Awareness Month by:
- Informing local government and community leaders about the awareness campaign and related issues
- Sharing tools to better communicate with healthcare team
- Using social media platforms to spread awareness about the campaign
- Sharing information about pain management programs
- Making donations to the ACPA to help fulfill their mission
Established pain management centers will be actively involved in the national effort to spread awareness about chronic pain. Such centers offer effective treatment programs that incorporate a variety of non-invasive modalities such as physical therapy, chiropractic care, TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation), oral medications and injections, and more. Patients are also taught self-management skills for managing chronic pain.