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September marks the 13th Anniversary of National Pain Awareness Month, which was created to bring attention to the suffering of the millions of Americans who live with chronic pain. For more information, see below.

What is National Pain Awareness Month all about?

Just after the turn of the century, a group of healthcare professionals, consumers, and support groups joined together to have September declared National Pain Awareness Month. The goals that were established at that time are still the same after 13 years of involvement, communications, and support:

  • To bring attention to the very real physical suffering of approximately 100 million American adults with chronic pain
  • To educate patients and healthcare providers about the treatment options available to help alleviate pain
  • To provide resources for individuals and families who are struggling with pain management

Great progress has been made in the years since the first National Pain Awareness Month was inaugurated back in 2001, but there is still a long way to go. Pain remains a national health crisis, and while programs such as National Pain Awareness Month have done much to provide a framework for addressing pain-related issues, they cannot succeed if there is any lessening in support, public advocacy, and communications programs.

Pain is more than a symptom

In 2001, the growing awareness that pain can be more than just a symptom of an underlying disease or condition led to the declaration that “Pain is the fifth vital sign.” This means that the amount of pain the patient may be experiencing should be determined, along with other vital signs such as body temperature, blood pressure, respiratory rate, and pulse rate. Since pain’s acceptance as a vital sign, asking questions about pain has become standard procedure during visits in institutions such as the Veteran’s Administration Healthcare System.

Getting the message through

Even with the recognition that programs such as National Pain Awareness Month have generated, many people with chronic pain don’t receive the pain management they need. Barriers to effective pain management include:

  • Lack of pain management training for healthcare professionals
  • Fear of regulatory scrutiny
  • Regulatory restrictions on prescribing controlled substances
  • Fears and misconceptions about medication addiction and abuse

One of the goals of National Pain Awareness Month is to foster awareness—to open the lines of communication and encourage partnerships between organizations and individuals so that pain management issues can be better understood and addressed. Greater understanding of the issues involved can help to change how pain is considered, as well as how it is treated.

Keep the ball rolling

During the month of September, Partners Against Pain will again be shining a spotlight on issues of chronic and acute pain. Healthcare professionals can be of great help in promoting awareness and education among patients, other professionals, and the general public.

  • Educate the community on topics of pain management by holding seminars during National Pain Awareness Month
  • Talk about misconceptions of chronic pain and how to lessen the stigma surrounding its treatment
  • Offer tips on managing pain while navigating Medicare
  • Start educating other healthcare providers about the barriers of pain management
  • Distribute educational materials to appropriate community venues
  • Encourage patients and their families to get involved and become proactive advocates by speaking out for the rights of people with pain

There are tools and resources available on PartnersAgainstPain.com to educate patients, caregivers, and families about the options that are available to them. To enhance education and awareness, use the attention gained by National Pain Awareness Month; it’s an opportunity to help promote effective pain management for millions of people with pain.

Be prepared for National Pain Awareness Month 2013

Download information about events, programs and more. . . .

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