September is Pain Awareness Month. The staff at National Spine and Pain Centers (NSPC) would like to take this opportunity to support our patients and raise our community’s awareness about pain.
If you suffer from an injury or an illness that causes pain, you are not alone. In the United States, 50 million adults suffer from chronic pain. Chronic pain is a long-lasting pain that you feel every day (or most days of the week), over a period of 6 months or more.
You don’t have to live with crippling pain!
Join us in raising awareness about chronic pain. We encourage you to become an active participant in your pain treatment. Read the following statistics and educational materials and start asking the questions that can guide you to a faster recovery from pain.
The Statistics on Pain
- Pain is the number one reason Americans visit their doctor.
- Chronic pain is the leading cause of long-term disability in the US.
- The resources used to treat chronic pain in the US are a staggering $560 to $630 billion each year.
- Lower back pain is a major health concern affecting up to 80% of Americans, especially people above 60–65 years of age.
- Other common pain conditions in the US include severe headaches/migraines (affects 15% of the population), neck pain (15%), face pain (4%).
- Chronic pain sets off a chain reaction of physical and social events such as anxiety, sleep difficulties, and depression.
- At least 10% of suicides that occur each year in the US, involve a person who is suffering from pain.
How Pain Awareness Month Began
Pain awareness month has been celebrated in the month of September, every year since 2001. It started when the American Chronic Pain Association joined several national health-care groups in order to raise public awareness about chronic pain. Click here, to reach the American Chronic Pain Association website.
The general public, lawmakers, businesses, physicians, nurses, therapists, pharmacists, and other health professionals, readily joined the cause. Pain Awareness Month is now a powerful means to educate the public and decrease the stigma of having chronic pain.
7 Ways to Take Control Over Your Pain
- Keep moving – Stay active (within safety limits). Regular physical activity can decrease pain by building muscles, improving flexibility, and releasing endorphins, the body’s “feel-good” chemicals.
- Recognize the early signs of pain – Pain measuring scales are useful tools for tracking pain levels. The Wong-Baker Faces scale is a visual tool developed for children, that may come in handy for adults as well. Use it to control your pain before it reaches unbearable levels. Click here, to see this scale. It helps to start taking pain medications at a light pain level (2-4) before your pain gets out of control.
- See a pain specialist – A pain specialist is a doctor who is certified to treat a variety of pain problems. Some people mistakenly think that a pain specialist treats just spine problems. In fact, a pain specialist treats many pain conditions, including knee/hip/shoulder pain, headaches, post-amputation pain, fracture pain, whiplash, and others.
- Stay informed – There are many resources for people with pain, such as medical websites, public media videos, and support groups. Click here to reach our NSPC website for more information on pain conditions and available treatments.
- Share your story – People with pain often isolate themselves. If you speak up about your experience, you will find other people with similar challenges. They might have good advice or simply be someone who can listen.
- Make healthy eating a priority – According to an old saying, “you are what you eat”. This is especially true in individuals with arthritis, where a diet low in inflammatory foods may reduce pain levels.
- Control stress – Chronic pain and chronic stress are two sides of the same coin. Pain and stress are the body’s protective mechanisms against physical injury. However, if either one lasts beyond a couple of weeks, it can hurt rather than help you.
How To Reach Us
If you are living with chronic pain or care about someone who does, our staff at NSPC would like to help. Click here, to reach us for an appointment.