September Is Pain Awareness Month: How YOU Can Help Now

September is Pain Awareness Month: How YOU Can Help Now, Lynn R Webster, MD, @lynnrwebstermd, pain, pain management

According to the American Chronic Pain Association’s web site, “The month of September has been declared Pain Awareness Month. Pain Awareness Month is a time when various organizations work to raise public awareness of issues in the area of pain and pain management.”

September Is Pain Awareness Month 

The American Chronic Pain Association (ACPA) doesn’t boast about it, but Pain Awareness Month actually came about because of its efforts. It started in 2001 when the ACPA brought together a coalition of groups under the banner Partners for Understanding Pain to create the first Pain Awareness Month.

Partners for Understanding Pain began to release toolkits in 2004 for use during Pain Awareness Month. By 2006, it was making three versions available: one for nurses, one for pharmacists, and one for older adults. The ACPA explains, “The toolkit provides information for working collaboratively with healthcare professionals, consumer and professional organizations, journalists, community leaders, and elected officials to ensure that those who suffer from pain have access to appropriate and effective pain therapies.”

The Pain Toolkit App

For 2016, what’s new is that everyone can download the Pain Toolkit App via the Apple and Google App stores. This will equip us with the best available materials to advocate for people in pain during Pain Awareness Month.

September’s National Pain Awareness Month is consistent with the National Pain Strategy’s call for a cultural transformation in the way pain is perceived, judged and treated. The National Pain Strategy (NPS) recommends a national public awareness campaign involving public and private partners to address misperceptions and stigma about chronic pain.

The NPS specifically is working to:

  • Develop methods to prevent, monitor, and manage pain
  • Develop a system of patient-centered integrated pain management practices based on a full spectrum of pain treatment options
  • Reduce barriers to pain care, and improve the quality of pain care for the vulnerable, stigmatized, and underserved populations
  • Increase public awareness of pain, improve patients’ knowledge of their treatment options and the risks associated with each of them, and better inform healthcare workers regarding health management

National Awareness Month provides a platform to provide the tools we all need to support NPS, generally, and people in pain, specifically.

Nobody chooses to suffer from chronic pain. And absolutely nobody deserves to be stigmatized for it. Those who suffer from it need our empathy and our support. Pain awareness month should be about recognizing the unmet needs of people in pain, and the political and cultural changes that need to occur in order for lives of people in pain to improve.

How You Can Help Raise Pain Awareness!

This month I would hope we all would consider the following…make your voice heard about legislation. It seems that, every couple of months, legislators propose another chronic pain-related bill. Here are a few ideas of what you can do:

~  When you learn that a bill affecting people in pain is up for debate at either the state or national level, make your voice heard.

~  Share your story or that of your loved one.

~  Let your elected officials know your point of view by sending a letter or email, or making a phone call.

~  Perhaps offer to give testimony at a committee hearing.

~  Write a letter to the editor. If you’re stuck for contact information or ideas about how to reach out, visit the ConsumerAction web site. As a U.S. voter, you are a consumer who deserves to be heard.

More ideas:

  • Get the media involved. Share your story of pain with a journalist, suggesting he or she write an article, or broadcast a story, on the topic.
  • Write your own op‐ed about pain or pain treatment, and send it to a news outlet. If you find an article about pain at an online site that allows readers to post comments, give your own view.
  • Join—or create—a community awareness event around pain where you live by tapping into the media’s potential.
  • Turn to your faith groups or social networks. Talk with your religious leaders about how your congregation can help people in pain.
  • Spread the word. Use social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, to inform your friends and followers about the realities of living with pain.
  • Become part of the online pain community, and push back against the myths, the stigma, and misinformation.
  • Join a support or advocacy group for people in pain such as The Pain Community, the National Fibromyalgia and Chronic Pain Association, the National Vulvodynia Association, the U.S. Pain Foundation, or the American Chronic Pain Association.

Your voice deserves to be heard, and working together with these organizations, you can make a difference in the way society views pain.

During Pain Awareness Month, it can be especially helpful to be a part of a movement to transform society’s attitude toward pain. It feels good to be fighting back against our primal enemy—pain. Becoming your own advocate may, by itself, promote healing.



photo courtesy of splitshire
Purchase my book The Painful Truth: What Chronic Pain Is Really Like and Why It Matters to Each of Us (available on Amazon) or read a free excerpt here.

the painful truth, lynn webster, md, chronic pain

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Copyright 2016, Lynn Webster, MD


  1. Lydia on September 5, 2016 at 7:23 am

    I didn’t know that September was Pain Awareness Month. Thank you for all of the practical suggestions. I will do everything I can to support people who are living with chronic pain.

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