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National Pain Awareness Month – 50 million Americans living with chronic pain

Updated: Dec 29, 2021

Pain is the number one reason Americans visit the doctor and pain is the leading cause of long-term disability in adults. More than 50 million Americans are living with chronic pain and nearly half of them live with high-impact chronic pain, or pain that significantly limits daily activities. Pain costs the United States an estimated $635 billion a year in terms of lost productivity and medical costs. Data from the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health show that the use of strong opioids for pain management in adults with severe pain has more than doubled since 1998.

Pain is a Major Public Health Issue

The American Academy of Pain Medicine AAPM has as its purpose to optimize the health of patients in pain and eliminate the major public health problem of pain by advancing the practice and the specialty of pain medicine. The AAPM says that the evaluation of painful syndromes includes interpretation of historical data; review of previous laboratory, imaging, and electrodiagnostic studies; assessment of behavioral, social, occupational, and avocational issues; and interview and examination of the patient by the pain specialist. Pain may require specialized diagnostic procedures, including central and peripheral neural blockade or monitored drug infusions. The special needs of the pediatric and geriatric populations and patients’ cultural contexts are considered when formulating a comprehensive treatment plan.

September is Pain Awareness Month

September a time to bring awareness to pain and pain management. The first Pain Awareness Month was in 2001, when the ACPA led a coalition of groups to establish September as Pain Awareness Month. ACPA established Partners for Understanding Pain and 80 organizations, both health care professionals and consumer groups, including the NAACP supported the effort.

Your Brain and Pain

Pain is a complex physiological process. A pain message is transmitted to the brain by specialized nerve cells known as nociceptors, or pain receptors (pictured in the circle to the right). When pain receptors are stimulated by temperature, pressure, or chemicals, they release neurotransmitters within the cells. According to the National Institute of Health - Brain structures, including the primary somatosensory cortex, secondary somatosensory cortex, anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), prefrontal cortex (PFC), insular cortex, amygdala, thalamus, cerebellum, and PAG, have been identified as regions associated with the perception of pain.

Arthritis - The Connection Between Pain and Your Brain

There is a direct link between your brain and your arthritis pain. Learn how scientists are now beginning to understand this connection and how your brain can help curb your pain. During Pain Awareness Month and the Arthritis Foundation is shining a spotlight on pain, the Foundation is showing the world what the arthritis community knows all too well – pain is debilitating, interfering with daily activities. This article will help shed some light on the pain you’re living with daily.

Reganing Control of Your Life

The American Chronic Pain Association says that living with a chronic condition requires changing the way you think about your health care and your life. The ACPA describes this as moving from patient to person. The ACPA is a great resource for information about pain and pain management. The information shared here can help you begin to regain control of your life and become an active participant in your treatment team.

Fibromyalgia - Neuroendocrine/Neurotransmitter Dysregulation

Fibromyalgia (pronounced fy-bro-my-AL-ja) is a complex chronic pain disorder that affects an estimated 5 to 8 million Americans. While it occurs most often in women, it can occur in men and children, and all ethnic backgrounds. For those with severe symptoms, fibromyalgia (FM) can be extremely debilitating and interfere with basic daily activities. The National Fibromyalgia Association reports that the underlying cause or causes of FM is closer to being understood because of new research findings that continue to bring a better understanding of the basic mechanisms of fibromyalgia. Most researchers agree that FM is a disorder of central processing with neuroendocrine/neurotransmitter dysregulation. For more information visit the Fibromyalgia Resource Center.

Neuropathic Pain

Neuropathic pain is often described as a shooting, burning, tingling and numbness - and can be the result of nerve damage or a malfunctioning nervous system. Neuropathic pain often seems to have no obvious cause. But some common causes of neuropathic pain include diabetes, multiple sclerosis, facial nerve problems, multiple myeloma, spine surgery or nerve or spinal cord compression from herniated discs or from arthritis in the spine.

Trigeminal Neuralgia

Trigeminal neuralgia (TN), also called tic douloureux, is a chronic pain condition that affects the trigeminal (fifth cranial) nerve, which carries sensation from your face to your brain. TN is a form of neuropathic pain (pain associated with nerve injury or nerve lesion.) Although sometimes debilitating, the disorder is not life-threatening. Symptoms range from mild to severe facial pain, often triggered by chewing, speaking, or brushing the teeth.

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