If you’re living with chronic pain, you’re already aware of the impact the condition can have on your life — but chances are strong that other people in your orbit don’t know as much as they could about the condition. That’s why the American Chronic Pain Association (ACPA) established September as Pain Awareness Month in 2001.
It can be hard when your friends and family don’t understand what you’re going through. “They will never stop asking because they don’t understand, especially those closest to you,” said one MyChronicPainTeam member about how tiring it is to have to explain their situation over and over.
It can also be difficult to say no to people who don’t understand your situation, because you might worry about how your relationships will be affected.
Raising awareness about chronic pain is important so that your friends, family, and acquaintances can best show their support.
Before you can create public awareness by sharing information about chronic pain with others, it’s a good idea to understand the specifics about chronic pain. Learn more about the causes, signs and symptoms, and treatments for the condition.
Chronic pain is defined in different ways, but most often it is considered to be pain that lasts between three and six months beyond the normal period it usually takes to heal after an injury or illness has been resolved. People with chronic pain often experience insomnia, depression, anxiety, and irritability, which in turn can make pain worse. There are several types of pain.
Chronic pain can linger after an injury, a surgery, or an outbreak of conditions like shingles (herpes zoster). Chronic illnesses such as rheumatoid arthritis, endometriosis, or fibromyalgia feature pain as a prominent symptom. Chronic pain can also be caused by cancer, migraines, or nerve damage. In some cases, the pain does not have a clear cause.
By some estimates, approximately 20 percent of the adult population in the U.S. lives with a form of chronic pain. Chronic pain is thought to affect more people in the U.S. than heart disease, cancer, and diabetes all together.
If you are new to a chronic pain diagnosis, educate yourself as much as possible about the condition. Talk to your health care provider, and network with other people whose lives have also been affected by chronic pain.
Once you’re armed with information about chronic pain, you can share it with others. The fastest and least expensive way to do this is through social media. You can post information about chronic pain, share details about the condition, and join communities of other people who are also working to raise awareness.
Check out the ACPA’s resources, which you can share to help people communicate effectively with friends, family, and even doctors about chronic pain. You can also follow the organization on Twitter, where it shares topical, health-related information for people with chronic pain.
To ensure your message reaches as many people as possible, consider using an appropriate chronic pain-related hashtag. For instance, the ACPA uses hashtags like #chronicpain and #chronicillness on its Twitter account. By using popular hashtags like these, your posts will be seen by more people who have the same interests as you do, and they’re likely to share and comment.
This helps raise awareness for the condition, and it also allows other people with chronic pain to realize they aren’t alone. Joining a social network like MyChronicPainTeam can also help you connect with others.
Another way to raise awareness about chronic pain is to participate in an activity dedicated to the cause. You can organize a bike ride or a walk for chronic pain, play bingo, host a silent auction, or even create a unique event that works for your interests. You can help other people understand more about chronic pain while having fun and raising money for the cause.
If you have money to spare, consider donating to organizations like the ACPA, which allows for further research into ways to better treat and manage the condition.
In addition, remember to engage in self-care. It is emotionally taxing to educate others about your lived experiences, so know your limits and accept when to put your mental well-being first.
On MyChronicPainTeam, more than 68,000 people living with chronic pain come together to ask questions, give advice, and share their stories with others who understand life with the condition.
Share your chronic pain journey in the comments below, or start a conversation by posting on your Activities page.