September: National Pain Awareness Month

Patient Expert

September is designated as National Pain Awareness Month - part of the Decade of Pain Research and Treatment established by Congress, which took effect in January 2001.   The purpose of Pain Awareness Month is to bring attention to the very real physical suffering of an estimated 75 million Americans and to highlight the need for research and new, innovative treatment options.  
Observing Pain Awareness Month

In addition to it's national designation, many state and local governments have also declared September to be Pain Awareness Month.   Local groups around the country are planning events to raise awareness about the issues facing those of us who live with pain on a daily basis.

Following are some national pain awareness activities you might be interested in:

  • The American Pain Foundation Action Network is sponsoring "A Virtual March on Washington" and the "10,000 Voices Campaign" in an effort to improve pain management.     Through the Virtual March on Washington you can show our leaders that there is widespread support to address the critical needs for improved pain policy and practice.   The 10,000 Voices Campaign gives you the opportunity to tell your pain story either by writing it or making a short video.

  • Rest Ministries is sponsoring National Invisible Chronic Illness Awareness Week from September 13 - 19, 2010.   Their Web site features a number of opportunities to participate including guest bloggers who discuss various issues people with invisible illnesses face every day, and virtual conferences you can access through your computer.

  • The American Society of Interventional Pain Physicians is sponsoring a month-long educational campaign aimed at improving the quality of life for Americans suffering from acute and chronic pain. According to their news release they have developed a consumer section on their Web site that includes information about the latest diagnostic procedures and technologies, as well as an online directory of Interventional Pain Physicians.   Unfortunately, I have scoured their homepage several times and cannot find the consumer section mentioned.   Maybe you'll be able to find it better than I did.   I did find their directory of pain physicians, but it apparently only contains members of their organization because I was not able to locate any pain doctors within 100 miles of where I live - and I know there are several.   It may be more helpful if you live in a big city.

What You Can Do

In addition to participating in one or more of these national campaigns or a local event in your area, you can reach out to your own family and friends.   If you know someone else in pain, offer them support and encouragement.   If some people don't understand how much chronic pain impacts your life, share "Understanding Chronic Pain" with them and/or invite them to visit us here on where they can see for themselves how pain affects other people and ask any questions they might have.

Let's all take advantage of the opportunities this month to make our voices heard.   We deserve to have our pain taken seriously.   We deserve to have our pain treated adequately without being labeled as drug seekers.   It's time to speak up and speak loudly


Credit: Thinkstock