Facts About Pain – Top 10+ Facts From Pain Awareness Month
September is pain awareness month, but what exactly does that mean? There are millions of people around the world who suffer from a chronic pain condition. However, it’s not always obvious to the casual observer. It isn’t uncommon for a chronic pain sufferer to feel judged for using a handicap parking spot, using a cane in public, or carrying medications in a purse or backpack. September is an opportunity to de-stigmatize chronic pain by sharing inspirational stories, facts about pain, resources for pain management, etc. to name just a few.
Throughout the month of September, we are posting pain facts on our social media accounts. We compiled the top 10 facts into an infographic that you can share with your social following, or post to your page!
Do you have an interesting pain fact you would like to share? Head over to our Facebook Page and send us a message! We will be periodically be updating it this month.
Plain Text Version With Additional Facts About Pain
Chronic pain is considered a disease itself. It can be influenced by environmental and psychological factors and is resistant to most types of treatment.
The annual cost of pain in the United States, including healthcare expenses, lost income, and lost productivity, is estimated to be $$635 billion per year.
Breakthrough pain (commonly referred to as pain flair-ups) may occur with stress, illness, and certain activities, such as exercising or coughing, or when the dose of pain medicine that the patient is taking wears off.
Chronic pain can be extremely isolating. Many pain patients report feeling isolated and disconnected from friends and family, and loneliness can lead to depression and cardiovascular issues.
Depression and Pain
75 percent of patients with depression in primary care settings complain of pain-related symptoms, such as headache, stomach pain, neck and back pain, or diffuse unspecified pain.
Back pain is one of the most common reasons for missed work. In fact, back pain is the second most common reason for visits to the doctor’s office, outnumbered only by upper-respiratory infections.
Diet and Inflammation
The antioxidant properties of vegetables and fruits are thought to be one of the fundamental mechanisms underlying their anti-inflammatory dietary contributions.
While most sufferers experience attacks once or twice a month, more than 4 million people have chronic daily migraine, with at least 15 migraine days per month.
We are witnessing a growing grassroots movement that’s helping raise awareness and shedding stigma associated with invisible illnesses. Chronic illness social media accounts provide insight, affirmation, validation, and support to individuals navigating their chronic illness.
Online Chronic Pain Communities
As chronic pain is invisible, sufferers can feel misunderstood and stigmatized, by co-workers, friends, family and even the medical profession.
The fear of doing something that you believe will cause you to hurt even more triggers an increased perception of pain is a phenomena referred to as anticipatory pain. This fear can prevent people from doing even the most basic tasks of daily living.
Smoking and Pain
Studies show that smoking increases your risk for back pain, and it’s also been shown to increase chronic pain in people with fibromyalgia and neck pain. Nicotine in cigarette smoke can decrease the blood flow to joints in the back and can delay healing as well as increase the risk for further injury. Also, people who smoke need to take more medication than those who don’t to get back pain relief.
Yoga has become a favored exercise modality for chronic pain patients to help improve pain management, stress reduction, and the mind body connection. It is also modifiable based on an individual’s experience and ability, and can be practiced laying down, sitting in a chair or wheelchair.
Benefits of Yoga
- Mild to moderate exercise helps decrease pain.
- Increased intake of oxygen improves energy and overall sense of well-being.
- Breathwork combined with physical movement and stretching helps release muscle tension.
- Decreased sensitivity to pain and increased range of motion/flexibility.
PTSD and Pain
Approximately 15%-35% of patients with chronic pain also have PTSD. A very small percentage (2%) of the general population who do not have chronic pain have PTSD. One study showed that 51% of patients with chronic low back pain had PTSD symptoms. For those living with chronic pain, the pain may actually serve as a reminder of the traumatic event, which will tend to make the PTSD even worse.
Physical changes in the brain have been observed as a result of chronic pain. When someone is living in constant pain, the brain becomes overwhelmed resulting in a hyper-aroused nervous system. The brain never gets an opportunity to “shut down,” resulting in thinking difficulties, increased mental stress, anxiety, fear, anger, depression, and inability to focus.
Mindfulness in Pain Management
More mindfulness = less suffering. Pain patients who regularly practice mindfulness show reduced perception of pain, greater pain management self-efficacy, enhanced emotional intelligence, and improved stress regulation. Some favored mindful practices include:
- Guided meditation
- Body scan
- Gentle yoga
- Thai chi
- Guided imagery