September is Pain Awareness Month. Having a Pain Awareness Month helps organizations and individuals share with the public the issues relating to pain and its management. Pain is not new to any of us. Many of us have had to deal with some sort of pain in our lifetime. Acute or short term pain tends to occur from a surgery or an injury. This acute pain is what most of us are familiar with. This type of pain is often resolved within 3 months as the body begins to heal. Others are not so fortunate. For many individuals, their pain does not resolve and lingers on for much longer than 3 to 6 months. When this happens, their pain becomes chronic and can last up to years and often never goes away.
It is said that over 100 million Americans suffer with some type of chronic pain. This number reflects 1 out of every 10 people deal that have to deal with chronic pain. According to The Good Body, the most common types of chronic pain are back pain, migraines and/or headaches, neck pain and facial pain. Women are actually more likely to suffer from migraines, headaches or facial pain than men. It is hard to believe that Chronic Pain affects more individuals per year than cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.
Other Aspects of Chronic Pain
You should also be aware that those who deal with severe chronic pain tend to have a less than favorable overall level of health. They tend to require more health care, and often times suffer with a disability as a result of their pain. Chronic pain is actually the number one cause of disability in the United States. Chronic Pain has become an epidemic not only in the United States but worldwide. The effects of living with chronic pain not only affect someone physically, it also causes some emotional concerns. Many individuals dealing with chronic pain have trouble sleeping, feel that they have no control over their pain leaving them with a feeling of helplessness, and many often deal with depression.
The Cost of Chronic Pain
What is surprising is that Chronic Pain costs the public between $500 – $600 billion each year. You read it right, billions! Chronic pain is very expensive. It also comes with much controversy in regards to its treatment with prescription pain killers. Many individuals feel that prescription painkillers or opioids should not be used for any type of chronic pain. The believe that they are not effective and have an increase risk for an overdose. Others feel that prescription painkillers have been found to be helpful. Regardless of your opinion, it is estimated that over 20,000 individuals, or 44 people per day, died last year as a result of prescription opioid overdoses. The American Chronic Pain Association offers a Pain Medication and Treatment Resource Guide which many have found helpful for reviewing treatments and prescriptions.
If you are one of the many individuals who deal with chronic pain you know that you are always searching for things to help. Many individuals with chronic pain have sought out complimentary and alternative approaches. The most sought out alternatives are various forms of natural products including nutritional supplements, herbs, and homeopathy. Many others have tried deep breathing therapies, yoga or tai chi, chiropractic care, meditation, massage, and dietary changes. Some individuals are helped by joining or forming a support group. Regardless of what avenue you choose, a multi disciplinary approach seems to be the best way to manage it.
If you are looking to join a support group, you can visit RSDS.Org or the American Chronic Pain Association to see if there is a group near you. If you feel like joining me in spreading the word for Pain Awareness Month, the American Chronic Pain Association offers a Tool Kit.