I’m pretty sure there’s an awareness day, week, or month for everything nowadays, which is a good thing in my opinion. We live in a digitally connected world, so there’s no reason we shouldn’t be able to raise global awareness about any given subject.
These awareness campaigns aim to go beyond just lip service, moving people into action and change. The popular ALS ice bucket challenge in 2014 ended up yielding a whopping $220 million, most of which went to fund important research. This actually led to a breakthrough discovery involving a defective protein that plays a big role in the decline of individuals diagnosed with ALS. WHOA. How awesome is that?!
The American Chronic Pain Association has been championing Pain Awareness Month in September since 2001. They boast a long list of partner organizations that help raise awareness of chronic pain. Their website is filled with resources and tools for people living with chronic pain, practitioners who treat chronic pain, and loved ones of those with chronic pain.
Whether you live with pain or not, you can have an impact on this effort to raise awareness about chronic pain!
1. Spend some time learning about chronic pain. If you have a condition that causes pain, you’re probably well versed in this one. But there are always opportunities for learning new information, especially if you read about some conditions other than your own. Check out http://learnaboutyourpain.com for condition-specific education.
2. Educate others about chronic pain. Share the resource above with your loved ones, coworkers, random strangers on the street… No, but really, post some resources and info on your social media pages! With an estimated 100 million people suffering from chronic pain, the chances are high that your friends and loved ones know multiple people affected by pain of some kind. Helping them better understand the experience of pain and what they can do to help will serve so many people.
3. Share your own pain story. We are REALLY good at hiding our pain, am I right?! Arguably, it can be easier to remain silent about our pain than to answer people’s questions or be met with their pity. However, the more we hide our pain, the harder it gets to address it. Speak up, even if it’s to one person. Sharing our journeys with pain will help us begin to shine a light on the darkness.
4. Ask someone else about their pain. Reach out to a friend or loved one that you know is living with pain or has been struggling with a diagnosis or condition. Let them know that you’re there. Ask them about their experience. Discuss what you (& others) can do to help. And then follow through and do that!! If you don’t think you know anyone who is living with pain, simply write an open-ended post on social media bringing attention to Pain Awareness Month and offering for any of your friends living with pain to send you a private message if they want or need to talk. You might be surprised at what you receive.
5. Consider donating time, money, or other resources to an organization that supports awareness / research / resources / services for chronic pain. Here are some ideas:
American Chronic Pain Association https://theacpa.org
American Headache Society https://americanheadachesociety.org/
American Pain Society http://americanpainsociety.org/
American Society of Pain Educators www.paineducators.org
International Pain Foundation http://internationalpain.org/
International Pelvic Pain Society http://pelvicpain.org/home.aspx
National Fibromyalgia and Chronic Pain Association https://www.fmcpaware.org/
US Pain Foundation https://www.uspainfoundation.org/