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Why We Need a Pain Awareness Month

Did you know that September is officially Pain Awareness Month?

If you didn’t, you’re not alone. The American Chronic Pain Association (ACPA) declared this month in 2001 exactly because not enough attention is placed on issues in the area of pain and pain management. Hopefully, however, through their efforts and those of a number of organizations - and individuals like you - we can shed more light on pain.

But why do we need to pay more attention to pain?

By encouraging awareness and education on the underlying causes of pain, we can help improve treatments and alleviate suffering. And the sooner, the better.

Nearly 100 million Americans experience chronic pain. That’s one third of the whole country, and more than those who suffer from diabetes, heart disease, and cancer combined!

A Brief History of Pain Awareness Month

The ACPA led a coalition of groups to establish September as Pain Awareness Month back in 2001. This coalition, called Partners for Understanding Pain, consisted of 80 organizations including health care professionals, consumer groups, and the NAACP.

These groups committed to raise public awareness of issues in the area of pain and pain management during the month of September through mass media, public forums, and other methods.

Their work aims for chronic pain to be more readily recognized, better understood, and destigmatized in society.

Why A Designated Month is Necessary

To understand why pain as a medical phenomenon deserves more attention, we must first understand what exactly pain is.

Put simply, pain is your body telling you that a problem within requires attention. Starting in receptor nerve cells located under the skin or in the organs, pain is a warning signal in the form of an uncomfortable or unpleasant feeling.

Because there are so many causes of pain, and the term encompasses a broad range of afflictions, it can be hard to diagnose and treat this serious public health issue.

Pain Awareness Month demands that it be treated as the urgent problem that it is so that individuals and families struggling with pain management can get the support they need from legislators, the business community, and the general public.

People who suffer from chronic pain are currently overlooked and undertreated. A report by the CDC in 2016 on the prevalence of chronic pain among adults found that an estimated 20.4% (50.0 million) of U.S. adults had chronic pain and 8.0% of U.S. adults (19.6 million) had high-impact chronic pain.

For those millions of Americans, even getting through the day can be difficult. Chronic pain, which is defined as ongoing pain lasting more than six months, is debilitating, severely impacting the quality of life of those who suffer from it.

Pain Awareness Month 2020

This year’s theme is “#MyPainPlan.” It’s meant to normalize the idea that each individual’s pain is unique, and therefore his or her treatment plan needs to be, too. The organizations behind this September’s outreach program are focused on an individualized approach to pain management. Read more about their efforts here.

What You Can Do

Besides spreading the word on social media and talking to loved ones about your personal struggles in order to demystify and destigmatize pain, there is one thing you can do to support Pain Awareness Month that’s arguably the most important.

Take care of yourself by staying active!

Learn how you can stay active even while you sit.

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