Pain Awareness Month may have come to a close, but the need for improved care and increased understanding about pain continues.

“We are so appreciative of everyone who took part in our Pain Awareness Month #MyPainPlan campaign, whether joining an event, exploring MyPainPlan.org, securing a proclamation, taking part in the My Marathon fundraiser, or helping spread the word on social media,” says Nicole Hemmenway, CEO of U.S. Pain Foundation. “We are especially grateful to our sponsor, Sunbeam®, for their generous support of all our activities throughout the month.”

This year’s goal was to draw attention to the fact that pain care ideally should be personalized and multidisciplinary–yet patients often face obstacles to that type of care.

To kick things off, U.S. Pain released the results of a survey of 1,581 people with chronic pain. The results demonstrated several key takeaways about barriers to treatment access. (To explore the takeaways and read the full report, visit the Pain Awareness Month site.) The results were shared across various outlets, including during a virtual symposium hosted by the Alliance for Advancing Comprehensive Integrative Pain Management (AACIPM) in partnership with U.S. Pain.

With the goal of helping educate patients on multidisciplinary options and encouraging conversations with providers about treatment, U.S. Pain Foundation also launched a new website, MyPainPlan.org, featuring an interactive module for learning about treatments across seven categories. More than 1,700 patients have created pain plans using the site thus far. While supplies last, everyone who completes their plan on the site will receive a free heating pad, courtesy of Sunbeam®. Heating pads will be shipped out in the next few weeks.

The site, MyPainPlan.org, will be available year-round.

Although the site’s development was a key initiative of Pain Awareness Month, it will be kept up in perpetuity for patients to access and learn from year-round.

In addition to the virtual symposium with AACIPM, U.S. Pain hosted three educational events via Zoom and Facebook Live on the topics of: strategies for pain relief at home during the COVID-19 pandemic, the ins and outs of heat vs. cold therapy, and a panel discussion with patients with years of experience navigating the healthcare system. Recordings of the events can be watched here. U.S. Pain was also a participant in a Twitter chat hosted by CreakyJoints at the start of the month, which explored disparities in pain care and the need for innovation.

The Pediatric Pain Warrior Program was busy throughout the month as well, launching a special fundraiser, “My Marathon,” which has raised more than $8,500 so far. The fundraiser centers around the idea that when you have chronic pain, even small things can be challenging–but that doesn’t mean the triumphs aren’t just as important. Kids and their families picked activities ranging from walking 26 steps for 26 days to doing 26 minutes of physical therapy for 26 days, and received pledges for achieving their goal. To learn more about the fundraiser, read this news article.

Finally, U.S. Pain was proud to have a handful of individuals secure proclamations recognizing September as Pain Awareness Month thanks to Penni Pace Mix, Adam Lewin, Lisa Revel, Ernie Merritt, and Lori Monarca.

“Each year, we aim to take a creative approach to raising awareness about pain,” says Hemmenway. “In 2019, we focused on the importance of speaking up about pain through the #LetsTalkAboutPain theme, and hosted a month-long patient storyathon. This year, we took a close look at the reality of pain care in America and tried to empower patients to learn about best practices in pain management. I’m excited for what 2021 will bring, and am so thankful for the pain warriors who join us year in and year out as we advocate for the pain community.”