September is Pain Awareness Month. The focus is on chronic pain, which is pain that lasts most days of the week for 6 months or longer. More than 50 million Americans suffer from chronic pain. Of those affected, 20 million have such severe pain that it drastically affects their daily lives. You can read these facts and more information in the U.S. Pain Foundation‘s article “What You Need To Know About Chronic Pain.” This article also has a short video with real pain patients talking about their pain and how long they’ve been in pain.
Another little known fact is 30% of children experience chronic pain, and children’s pain is often overlooked and under-treated. When my three-year-old son was being treated for stage 4 cancer, he would get silent and still when in pain. The only way I learned he was in pain was because his doctor recognized it and ordered pain medicine. After the medicine kicked in, he relaxed and went to sleep. So, a child doesn’t have to be crying to be in pain. You can learn more at https://pedspainmedicine.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/Pediatric-Pain-Awareness-Month.pdf
The Impact of Chronic Pain
The saddest thing about these statistics is that each one represents a person whose life is filled with pain. Far too often, these people are not believed when they tell loved ones, friends, or medical professionals about their pain. Too often they are seen as “drug seekers” if they go to an emergency room. Just because pain isn’t always visible doesn’t mean that it isn’t real. If you look closely enough, you will see the telltale signs of pain: dark circles under the eyes and a look of exhaustion because their pain is interfering with their sleep. A person may wince or grimace while moving or reaching for something. They may hold their body in a very tense, rigid way, instead of looking relaxed even when they’re at home.
Chronic pain is exhausting. Every task takes far more energy to do when in pain than if the person was pain free. When a person with chronic pain isn’t trusted when they say they are in pain, this only adds mental anguish to an already unbearable situation. If you don’t suffer from chronic pain, the best thing you can do for someone in pain is to believe them.
Resources For Pain Awareness Month
The U.S. Pain Foundation has information about adult and pediatric chronic pain: https://uspainfoundation.org/pain
The Society For Pediatric Pain Medicine has resources for parents and families regarding pain in children: https://pedspainmedicine.org/patients-and-families-useful-links/
Most countries will have pain societies or foundations to help you find resources for managing pain where you live.
You can read any of my chronic pain blog posts here: https://www.upbeatliving.net/category/chronic-pain/
Wrap-Up Of Pain Awareness Month
This has been a difficult post to write, because my hands hurt. Arthritis is no joke. It’s also been hard remembering when my child was so little and in pain. Anyway please share these resources with anyone you know who needs them. I hope you find relief from your pain. Till next time, Kathy
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