At the beginning of September, we challenged all of our readers to start a conversation about chronic pain. Whether the conversation was simply a one-on-one conversation with a caregiver or as part of a larger event, talking more openly about chronic pain helps increase awareness for the myriad conditions that contribute to chronic pain, increases empathy among non-pain patients, and allows others to talk about their own pain issues.
As we noted in our first post for National Pain Awareness Month:
“No one else seems to understand what pain is like. By sharing your own experiences with the people closest to you, though, you can change this. Your friends, family, and coworkers might become much more compassionate and supportive. Maybe your friends won’t question it when you say you need to rest for a while, or perhaps your spouse will go out of his or her way to bring you an ice pack or give you a massage more often.”
As part of that commitment, we profiled a few overlooked populations of pain patients to better showcase the struggles they specifically face when looking for help with chronic pain. In partnership with the Pain Doctor and Arizona Pain blog, we reported on rates of pain and discrepancies in treatment for:
- Asian Americans
- African Americans
- Hispanic Americans
- LGBTQ community members
- Young people with chronic pain
- Mental health patients
By talking about the specific issues each group faces, we hope to influence change among medical professionals, research studies, and the general public. Everyone with chronic pain deserves the same level of treatment, care, and compassion.
Tools for fighting chronic pain
No conversation about chronic pain is complete without discussing some of the treatments that are available for pain patients–especially non-opioid based therapies. As we discussed in our post on treating pain holistically, we believe that:
“Treating pain holistically simply means placing an emphasis on living a healthy lifestyle and promoting wellness throughout the entire body and mind.”
Because of this emphasis in all of our products, we covered not only traditional treatments, but also groundbreaking treatment methods that are still in development, lifestyle ways to manage pain, and technological tools that can help you prevent a flare-up.
Chiropractic care is one of the best means for managing pain. In our “25 Reasons You Should See A Chiropractor” post, we discussed many of the research-backed reasons that chiropractic care is so effective for pain patients. Besides being customizable, drug-free, and non-invasive, it’s also an excellent preventative and relaxing therapy.
An emerging therapy for chronic pain in the U.S. is just as promising as it is controversial. Kratom is a leaf that has been used for centuries to relieve pain. While many websites tout its benefits, there is still not enough solid research to verify its effectiveness or safety as a pain management option. However, as we did note in our article on the topic:
“Kratom doesn’t seem to produce the same symptoms of respiratory distress as opioids. While it does seem to hold the potential for abuse and addiction, it may eventually be possible to develop pharmaceutical drugs from kratom. These drugs might provide a safer painkiller alternative to opioids, as well as something to help ease withdrawals from opioid addiction.”
In addition to manual therapies like chiropractic care or pharmaceutical interventions like kratom, there are also pain treatments that rely solely on tracking symptoms, identifying triggers, and avoiding those in the future. Some people have found this method of tracking pain symptoms so helpful that they created a mobile app to make it even easier. Flaredown isn’t out to the public yet, but it promises to simplify pain symptom tracking and doctor’s appointments in the future. Connect with the Flaredown community to keep up with app developments.
In the same way, many people look at their environments to see how they can be improved to help decrease pain. Since we spend so much time at work, our office is an immediate place to start making improvements. Our “10 Ways To Manage Your Chronic Pain At Work” post discussed some of the simple ways you can create a more pain-healthy work environment.
The chronic life
Finally, this month, we discussed some lifestyle topics that are particularly relevant to chronic pain patients, and those with other chronic illnesses.
First, we recommend that everyone (not only those with a disability or pain condition) read up on the vital instructions provided in the “Emergency Preparedness For People With Disabilities” post. There, you’ll also find resources for further information and ways to prepare for an emergency.
We also looked at a lifestyle movement that is rooted in the very equipment many chronic patients have to use every day: the wheelchair. Wheelchairs have largely stayed the same since the 1930s and many disability advocates are now asking for more: more customization, more colors, more usability, and more features. Likewise, these same advocates are also questioning the traditional International Symbol of Accessibility design, requesting a more dynamic image that better conveys the wide population of disabled individuals. We’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject in the comments below!
Just as we’d like to see more compassionate depiction of chronic patients in the world, we also like to see real characters with disabilities on TV. As we noted in our post on the topic:
“Sometimes seeing someone who’s like you on TV can make a big difference. It can help others understand your perspective a little better, spark important conversations, and just make you feel a little less singled out. Indeed, research has shown that representation in media is important. Usually, though, conversations about representation tend to center on race, ethnicity, gender, or sexuality. Chronic pain and disabilities aren’t as commonly discussed, though this is slowly changing. An increasing number of TV shows feature characters with chronic pain or disabilities. Some are even played by actors and actresses who have these disabilities.”
We discussed some of our favorite depictions of chronic patients and asked for your favorites.
How did you celebrate National Pain Awareness Month? Were you able to start any conversations about chronic pain?
Image by Alexandre Dulaunoy via Flickr