Since 2001, the American Chronic Pain Association (ACPA) has been working diligently to bring awareness to the problem of chronic pain. They have designated September as Pain Awareness Month. Additionally, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon proclaimed September 2013 as Pain Awareness Month for Missouri.
There are over 100 million people in the United States who suffer from chronic pain. Also, more than two million Missourians are living with life-changing pain; this is more than those impacted by heart disease, cancer, and diabetes combined. Pain is a major driver of health costs. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) estimates that pain costs the US $635 billion per year in medical expenses, lost wages, lost productivity, and other healthcare costs. Studies show that significant savings could be achieved through better treatment of acute pain, reduction in workers’ compensation costs and lost tax revenues, and a reduced burden of opiod abuse and misuse.
One of the most common diseases associated with chronic pain is arthritis. According to the 2011 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), 28.8% of Missourians reported living with doctor-diagnosed arthritis. This same 2011 BRFSS survey indicated that of Missourians with doctor-diagnosed arthritis, 30.4% reported severe joint pain. A Pfizer report, The Burden of Pain Among Adults in the United States, has a lot of great information on the issues of pain and how arthritis is connected in with chronic pain issues.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends self-management education and physical activity programs to help relieve pain symptoms associated with arthritis. They have provided a video specifically talking about how physical activity can be the "Arthritis Pain Reliever". Here in Missouri, there are several of each type of program offered to people with one or more chronic health condition (such as arthritis, asthma, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity) and caregivers. To learn more about self-management programs or physical activity programs, please visit our website or contact your Regional Arthritis Center (RAC).
With the month of September ending, our awareness of the problem of pain doesn't have to stop here. What can you do to help bring awareness to the problem of chronic pain and to educate your friends and family members? The ACPA offers many tools and resources for persons experiencing pain and chronic pain. Other great resources include Pfizer's website on Fibromyalgia (FibroKnowledge) and their website on Diabetic Nerve Pain (Diabetes Pain Help). If you would like more information about arthritis and its impact on Missourians, please view the Missouri Arthritis and Osteoporosis Program's 2012 Fact sheet here. The National Council on Aging and the Arthritis Foundation have teamed up to produce "Put Pain In Its Place" an Osteoarthritis Toolkit to help healthcare professionals educate older adults specifically on issues of pain and osteoarthritis.