September is National Pain Awareness Month. Chronic pain is considered an “invisible illness”; those who have it may exhibit no signs of illness or disability. Because their pain is not readily apparent, chronic pain patients may face discrimination or get snide comments or looks. National Pain Awareness Month seeks to change that. To that end, here are ten ways to get involved in spreading the word about pain.
1. Donate time
Whether you volunteer for a local organization that helps people manage their chronic pain or you spend time visiting with family or friends who suffer from chronic pain, National Pain Awareness Month is a great time to connect with people and build awareness.
During this time, you can:
- Cook a friend dinner: Find our whole collection of pain-friendly recipes, choose one you know your friend will like, and make enough for leftovers!
- Take a walk: Sometimes company and fresh air is the best medicine for a flare-up. Invite a friend to join you on a walk. It doesn’t matter if you have chronic pain or you are walking with someone who does. Committing to exercise and connecting with friends is a good prescription for both of you!
- Do the boring stuff: If you have a local non-profit that deals with chronic pain and chronic pain awareness, spend some time stuffing envelopes, copying fliers, or canvassing the area to promote their events. It’s not glamorous, but this is one way to meet the goal of raising awareness of chronic pain.
2. Donate money
Many chronic pain organizations (like the American Chronic Pain Association) are non-profits that rely on donations from chronic pain supporters or grants from foundations. Donations to a federally recognized non-profit are tax-deductible. If you are looking for a place to donate and want to support a cause you believe in, consider donating money to ACPA or other non-profit chronic pain organizations.
3. Speak out
Have you heard the phrase, “See something, say something?” If you are with someone or online and see or hear hurtful speech regarding chronic pain or myths surrounding chronic pain, take the time to address those comments to build understanding. It need not be confrontational. Directing someone to a link or sharing parts of your own story are two ways to combat ignorance about chronic pain without getting into an argument.
4. Use social media
Tweet your story or the story of those you love with the hashtag #chroniclife or #spoonie. For those who know very little about chronic pain, you can recommend exploring these hashtags to help them learn what life with chronic pain is like.
You can also follow Pain Doctor on Facebook to get updates from our blog and new research, or visit and follow Pain Doctor’s Pinterest account. We have pinned nearly 900 resources for you and your loved ones to learn more about chronic pain, to connect with other people, or to gather inspiration for cooking, exercises, and other therapies.
5. Subscribe to a chronic pain blog
Pain Doctor has their own chronic pain blog obviously, but there are other excellent chronic pain bloggers sharing their story and educating friends and family of chronic pain sufferers. ChronicBabe and The Slightly Distressed Damsel both share their chronic pain journeys with humor, compassion, and honesty. These blogs can be a valuable resource and source of support and ideas for coping.
6. Share your experience
Many chronic pain bloggers never thought they would be the author of a blog that details their most intimate health issues, but they all have one thing in common: they just want to help. They started their blogs because they couldn’t find information on their particular condition in one place and wanted to help others who might have the same issue.
You can share your story on your own blog using free blog creators. Other options:
- Blogs too wordy for your taste? Create a Twitter account and tell your tale, 140 characters at a time.
- More visual? Join Instagram and share your story in pictures.
- Want a mix of all three? Try Tumblr and blog, chat, snap a picture, or insert a link.
For all options, use the hashtags #chroniclife and #spoonie to make connections with the chronic pain community.
7. Organize an event
No events for National Pain Awareness scheduled for your area? Organize one yourself! Although it would probably be difficult to organize a large event in this short time, start small with something like a local support group meeting or a “Night Out For Pain.” You can work with a local restaurant to donate a percentage of their evening’s proceeds to a non-profit chronic pain organization, and use that night to promote a larger event for the following year. As long as the donation is going to a non-profit organization, most restaurants are happy to do this. It helps if the restaurant is connected in some way to chronic pain (i.e., if an employee or an employee’s family member struggles with chronic pain).
8. Utilize your skills
If you are great with technology and web development, create and share a website to promote chronic pain awareness and to gather resources. If your forte is people, volunteer to be make phone calls to solicit donations for a local pain management organization. If you love working with kids, volunteer at a local hospital, school, or house of worship to develop activities for kids of all abilities and all pain conditions. The idea is to contribute what you are good at and enjoy doing so that you are more likely to continue spreading pain awareness past September.
9. Rally the troops
It can be difficult to convince people to volunteer. With so many things vying for our time and attention (family, work, school, and other causes we believe in), many people are reluctant to add one more thing, especially as school has just started for many people, and they may already be spread thin. If you want to get people excited and responsive, make it a goal to get as many people involved as possible. That way each person feels like they are contributing to raising awareness even if their time commitment is minimal. This is the same concept as crowdfunding, where many people give a little bit of money instead of few people giving a lot. If you can get 20 people to tweet once a day about chronic pain, that’s 600 tweets. Depending on the number of followers, that figure can snowball until thousands more are reached!
10. Raise some money
Speaking of crowdfunding, if you can give time, but you don’t have a lot of money to donate on your own, start a crowdfunding campaign and donate the proceeds to a non-profit organization or a family in your community who is struggling with the financial aspect of chronic pain treatments.
An estimated 100 million people in the U.S. suffer from chronic pain, and chances are good that you or someone you know is one of them. This September, how will you build awareness during National Pain Awareness Month?