City & State: Charlotte, NC

Age: 38 years old

Pain warrior role: U.S. Pain advocate and support group leader since 2017

What type of health conditions you live with: Complex regional pain syndrome, neuropathy of intercostal nerves, and arthritis

What is your favorite tip for others with chronic pain: What has helped me get through my chronic pain is being able to help others who are experiencing chronic pain. Once I worked through my own struggles with dealing with my health condition, I quit my job and opened up my own private practice in mental health so I could focus on helping others who are having their own struggles with chronic pain. Turning my frustration and anger into something positive really helps ground me in finding a purpose for my pain. I hope to one day be a leader and a change agent for all of those impacted by chronic pain. My favorite tip to others is to channel frustrations and sadness to something that helps you find meaning and purpose. Mine was advocacy for chronic pain care but it can be anything you enjoy and find meaning in!

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Pain warrior of the month: Linda Shaw

Location: Denver, CO

Age: 64 years young

Pain Warrior Role: U.S. Pain advocate/ambassador since 2018 and a member of the Disparities Solutions Advisory Council

Pain Conditions: Degenerative arthritis of the spine, osteoarthritis, and neuropathy

Tip for pain warriors: “Movement is key- know your limits and move within them! Movement has been my best medicine once I was healed enough to start walking again. Although any impact causes discomfort, I recognize when I move, the blood flow allows my pain to subside. Pre-Covid, water aerobics was my exercise of choice for two hours of pure physical, mental, and spiritual rejuvenation!”

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Pain warrior of the month: Richard Kreis

City & State: Sacramento, California

Age: 56 years young

Pain warrior role: Ambassador since 2015 and a Pain Connection support group leader

What type of health conditions do you live with: Chronic low back pain, leg circulation issues, leg ulcers, skin grafts, slight memory issues, edema.

What is your favorite tip for others with chronic pain:  For people just starting their chronic pain journey, I always say, “pain without humor is just painful.”  What I mean by this is, even with the worst pain possible, if you never laugh, what do you have? A life of pain is difficult, so laugh. Also, you have to care for yourself before you can care for someone else.

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Location: Dayton, Ohio

Age: 51

Pain warrior role: Advocate and chronic pain support group leader since 2017

Conditions: Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS), irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and osteoarthritis.

Favorite tip: “Finding a good support group has really helped my mental health. Whether it’s online with Pain Connection or in person, feeling understood is very beneficial. Look at multiple ways to approach pain, such as meditation, physical therapy, and counseling is useful.”

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Location: Tewksbury, MA

Age: 51 years old

Pain warrior role: Ambassador/advocate for 4 years

Health conditions: I have lived with Crohn’s disease, degenerate disc disease, osteoarthritis, severe muscle spasms, multi-leveled spondylosis, over-active bladder, bipolar I & II, anxiety, depression, ADHD, and PTSD.

Tips for pain warriors: “The biggest tip to anyone suffering from chronic pain or chronic illness I have would be to keep moving. Exercise, stretch, walk the dog, walk the block, or just walk to the mailbox, as long as you just keep moving.”

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City & state: Los Angeles, CA

Age: 37

Role: U.S. Pain ambassador/advocate since 2019

Health conditions: Anxiety, endometriosis, spastic pelvic floor syndrome, IBS, Sjogren’s, and vestibular and chronic intractable migraine.

Tip for pain warriors: “I bought an Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) workbook from Amazon and write in a daily gratitude journal that both helped tremendously with my depression and anxiety.”

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Bobbi Blades fighting for chronic pain patients at the New Hampshire State House

City & State: Concord, NH

Age: 65 years old

Pain warrior role: U.S. Pain advocate since 2017

What type of health conditions you live with: Rheumatoid arthritis, spondylolisthesis, herniated disk, and IBS-C

What is your favorite tip for others with chronic pain: “Hang on to the hope and the belief that you can do this through the support and experience of others, who like you, live with chronic health conditions.  You are not alone. Breathe!”

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City and State: Easton, MA

Age: 30

Pain Warrior Role: U.S. Pain advocate since 2011.

Health Conditions: I live with chronic widespread pain due to lupus and chronic pelvic pain due to endometriosis.

Favorite Tip For Those Living With Pain: “Take time every single day to remind yourself that you are a strong, brave, unique, and amazing person, who is always worthy of being treated with respect and dignity.  Also, never let yourself forget that you possess an intrinsic value that exists just from you being you, and having chronic pain can never negate nor diminish this.”

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City & State: Gaithersburg, MD

Age: 46 years old

Pain warrior role: Advocate since 2019

What type of health conditions you live with: Foot pain neuropathy, disc disease, plantar fasciitis, tendinitis, achilles tendinitis, chronic kidney stones, kidney disease stage 3, bilateral Morton’s neuroma, depression, anxiety, degenerative disc disease, cataracts, crest disease, fibromyalgia, GERD, osteoarthritis, myofascial pain syndrome, patulous esophagus, anterior endplate bone spurring, multiple thoracic levels, venous thrombosis , chronic pain syndrome, migraine, contact dermatitis, and joint pain.

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Age: 41

Location: Anderson, Indiana

U.S. Pain Foundation role: Ambassador since 2019

Health conditions: Reflex sympathetic dystrophy, Crohn’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, degenerative disc disease, spondylosis, osteopenia, optic neuritis, and psoriasis

Tip for pain warriors: “I have found that pain journaling is helpful in identifying pain triggers, as well as remembering things that have helped lessen my pain in the past (it also helps my doctor). Also, I have found that having a friend who has chronic pain to lend a sympathetic ear during the rough patches helpful, especially when they care enough to call and check on you!”

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