Pain. It’s something we feel from a young age and throughout our lives in various ways. But no matter what hurts, the way we experience and manage pain is a unique and personal story, no matter the symptoms or diagnosis. Unfortunately, while pain is a common sensation that translates to every part of the world, many misconceptions exist about certain types of pain and pain management.
This disconnection is one of the reasons each September is Pain Awareness Month (PAM), a month dedicated to spreading awareness about various forms of pain and addressing how we manage them. Starting informative conversations about pain-related topics is a crucial part of this time, as it works to dispel hurtful information that undermines how people internalize pain and perceive those who have it, whether that’s using opioids or dealing with depression.
So if you have personal experience coping with pain or know those who suffer daily, consider contributing in some way this month. Speak up and correct wrong information when you hear it. Share your stories and the stories of others, but only if you have their permission. Or even donate to campaigns like Give A Squat 4 Pain.
Either way, start meaningful conversations whenever you can.
History of Pain Awareness Month
As far as national recognition holidays, PAM is fairly young. First envisioned in 2001 by the American Chronic Pain Association as part of a pain awareness campaign, the month has since grown to include national conferences, journals, and working directly with politicians to better fund pain research.
Pain is universal, but how we approach and discuss it differs from year to year. One topic reaching national attention in U.S. relates to the opioid epidemic. Opioids are one of the most commonly prescribed medications to help with pain and include examples like oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine, morphine, and many others. While the pain relief they provide are often self-evident, they also carry the risk of addiction. In 2015 alone, more than two million were reported to have misused opioids for the first time, and more than 30 thousand died from related overdoses. The subject has led many to consider alternative, non-addictive pain treatments such as medical marijuana, cryotherapy, and traditional remedies like acupuncture.
Why PAM is important for hospitals
The connection between pain management and hospitals is fairly clear, but it’s still an important opportunity for educating medical professionals, patients, and their families. In many ways, the pain conversation starts with your doctor and building strong relationships with patients. Patients can then pay it forward, in a way, by spreading that knowledge to others.
But a conversation is more than a one-way street. Patients can take ownership of their treatment by asking questions, regardless of whether they feel embarrassed by them or not.
Get engaged on social media by using hashtags like #PainAwarenessMonth and join the conversation!