September is Pain Awareness Month, established by the American Chronic Pain Association (ACPA) to raise awareness among the healthcare community, policymakers, and the public about pain management and chronic pain issues. The initiative is also aimed to facilitate peer support and education for individuals who are affected with chronic pain so that their quality of life may improve, while highlighting the admirable work that health care professionals do every day to treat pain.
Pain is a symptom that can be classified as acute or chronic depending on its duration. Acute pain occurs briefly and goes away after a few days or weeks, while chronic pain persists for three months or more. The primary differences between the two are duration and how they affect daily life. Acute pain is normal and expected, while chronic pain is not. Acute pain serves a purpose, such as alerting the body to a possible injury, so it can be dealt with efficiently.
Chronic pain is usually characterized by an ongoing sense of discomfort or an intense feeling of tenderness. Chronic pain tells the brain there may be a problem but does not indicate whether this problem requires immediate treatment or not.
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), despite effective treatments, chronic pain is a major public health problem and costs more to society than cancer, heart disease, and diabetes combined.
Each year, chronic pain costs the United States as much as 630 billion dollars in medical expenses and lost productivity. For many years, the focus of treatment for chronic pain has been to relieve symptoms by using prescription drugs. However, such drugs have a narrow focus and only treat the symptoms, not the underlying problems.
Chronic Pain Symptoms
Symptoms of chronic pain can range from mild to severe, depending on the severity of the underlying problem, the person’s past experience with pain, and their tolerance for pain. Chronic pain is usually constant, but there may also be flare-ups where the pain intensifies. Chronic pain can look like:
- Muscle aches
- Joint pain
- Loss of stamina and flexibility due to decreased activity
- Burning or throbbing pain
These physical symptoms may take a significant toll on your mental health as well, resulting in:
- Decreased sex drive
- Low quality of sleep
Chronic Pain Causes
Chronic pain is often linked to other health conditions, such as:
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Muscle strains
- Nerve damage
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Surgical trauma
- Lyme disease
Purpose of Pain Awareness Month
The ACPA has begun numerous initiatives to directly raise awareness of chronic pain issues and pain management. First, the association launched a new website, complemented by a mobile app to provide better access to peer support resources. The ACPA is additionally in the process of developing several digital communication guides that are aimed to improve dialogue during telehealth and in-person office visits. Along with newer technology resources, the ACPA launched an Access to Care initiative to focus on reaching underserved communities.
Contact Comprehensive Medical Care During Pain Awareness Month
This September, take the time to learn more about chronic pain, how chronic pain is managed, and what you can do to help those suffering from chronic pain. At Comprehensive Medical Care, our goal is to alleviate and heal chronic pain in any way we can. If you would like to learn more about chronic pain and what our practice does to treat these conditions, contact us today here, or call (732) 532-3679.