Since 2001, September has been Pain Awareness Month, a time where organizations and individuals can work together to raise public awareness of chronic pain and pain management. Many people across the world deal with some type of pain, which often interferes with day-to-day activities at work or with loved ones. For 2020, the theme for this Pain Awareness Month is “My Pain Plan,” focusing on how important it is for individuals to have a multimodal, individualized, and multidisciplinary approach to their pain care.
Just one cause of chronic pain is migraines, with millions of people in the U.S. alone suffering from head pain. The World Health Organization even reports that dealing with headache pain is disabling for many people and is one of the world’s top causes of years lost due to disability. During Pain Awareness Month, it’s important to take measures to better understand migraine pain and raise awareness of the debilitating pain so many people experience across the globe.
The History Behind Pain Awareness Month
This history behind Pain Awareness Month traces back to 2001 when the American Chronic Pain Association decided to create a Pain Awareness Campaign, pulling together multiple organizations across the U.S. in the effort to first establish the month of September as Pain Awareness Month. The goal was to help raise awareness through public forums, mass media, and additional forums to ensure chronic pain was recognized, understood better, treated and managed more fittingly, and to reduce the stigma often attached to pain. Not only was the month created to build greater understanding among families and individuals who struggle with pain, the general public, and legislators, but also among the health care professionals who treat them.
Over the years, Pain Awareness Month has brought about conferences, workshops, partnerships, toolkits, and even visits to congressional representatives, all aiming to improve understanding and treatment for individuals suffering from chronic pain. Today, the movement has grown, with grassroots efforts resulting in local events across the country to generate both knowledge and understanding of chronic pain and the many issues that come along with it.
Pain and Migraine Pain Statistics
For those who doubt the importance of having a month dedicated to pain awareness, here are a few statistics on general chronic pain, headache, and migraine pain.
- 50 million people within the United States deal with chronic pain daily
- One out of five people in the world experience some type of chronic pain
- The most common types of chronic pain include:
- Chronic migraine
- Pelvic pain
- Musculoskeletal pain (i.e. chronic arthritis pain, neck pain, low back pain)
- Chronic post-surgical pain
- Cancer pain
- Neuropathic pain (i.e. trigeminal neuralgia, shingles, diabetic neuropathy)
- Around 42 million people in the United States experience head pain
- Migraines cost around $14 billion each year in lost wages and lost productivity
- Head pain is a leading cause of disability across the world
What You Can Do to Raise Awareness in September
The key to raising awareness for chronic pain and headache pain is to get involved. You can take many steps to promote Pain Awareness Month, and here are a few good ones to get you started.
- Discuss with friends and family – Let your friends and family know about Pain Awareness Month. Consider posting about it on social media and encourage loved ones to do the same. You may want to follow groups like the American Chronic Pain Association (who created this initiative) or The Will Erwin Headache Research Foundation, that partners with a center dedicated to the study of debilitating headaches to find a cure for chronic headache pain.
- Talk with your physician – Make sure your physician knows about Pain Awareness Month, and the American Chronic Pain Association offers communication tools you can use to talk to your doctor about pain.
- Check with local media – Find out if local media are doing a story on September Pain Awareness Month. If not, encourage them to do so.
- Make a donation – Donate to The Will Erwin Headache Research Foundation this month to help researchers on their quest to find a cure for migraines and cluster headaches.