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By Kelly O’Neill Young

When I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), I had no idea what it meant. Not only was I unaware of what symptoms to expect, I did not know exactly what the disease was. My grandfather had lived with the disease, and died with it. But the only things I remembered were his bent fingers and watching him push with the back of his hands to stand up. Why did he do that and what was wrong with his hands?

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By Katie Golden

In Dr. Robert Cowan’s paper “CAM in the Real World: You May Practice Evidence-Based Medicine, But Your Patients Don’t,” he explores the notion that patients with migraine disease often incorporate complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) into their treatment regime, although it is a topic often left out of the discussion between physician and patient.

Some examples of CAM are yoga, meditation, acupuncture, massage therapy, homeopathy, biofeedback, and natural supplements.

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By Jerry S. Goldman and Ethan W. Middlebrooks

As a result of the conflicting laws and policies of the federal government and the various states, users of medical cannabis are faced with a host of practical challenges.

The Federal Controlled Substances Act places cannabis (including CBD, a constituent chemical) in Schedule I, the most tightly restricted category, with substantial criminal penalties for its sale and distribution and adverse implications for banking, taxation, intellectual property, and litigation.  State law is subject to the primacy of federal law. For most of the 20th century, states mirrored the federal policy. Over the past two decades, however, a large majority of states have permitted the regulated distribution and possession of cannabis for medical and/or adult-use purposes. Some states permit such uses only for CBD; 21 other states (along with D.C., Guam and Puerto Rico) have comprehensive medical cannabis programs; and 8 states have authorized adult-use cannabis programs.

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The U.S. Pain Foundation is excited to present the next event in its bimonthly webinar series, “From ow to om: Using mindfulness to reduce pain and stress,” featuring Gwenn Herman, LCSW, DCSW. Herman is the clinical director for U.S. Pain’s Pain Connection program, a network of support groups and other resources for people with pain.

During July’s webinar, to be held on the 17 from 1 to 2 pm EST, Herman will focus on using meditation and mindfulness to lower pain and stress levels. She will discuss the science behind mindfulness, different techniques, and lead attendees in a guided meditation. There is a great deal of scientific data to support the positive effects of mindfulness meditation for people suffering from chronic pain, and this free webinar is a rare opportunity to learn from someone who intimately understands these health issues.

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In April at the National Rx Drug Abuse Summit and in a recent Journal of American Medical Association article, Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), announced a bold new initiative to advance addiction and pain research called “Helping to End Addiction Long-term,” or the HEAL Initiative. Congress has added $500 million to NIH’s budget to pay for this initiative.

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Ever wished your clinician had more time to explain your symptoms? Or wished they wouldn’t use complicated terms or acronyms? Maybe you wish they were able to speak more concretely about how your condition would affect your daily life. A new program, MedicineX, aims to bridge this gap in health care by using pictures and carefully written stories to make complicated medicine accessible and understandable for the average patient.

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Palanker discusses the possible upcoming changes to the ACA.

The White House Administration recently announced it will no longer defend in court key parts of at the Affordable Care Act (ACA), specifically protections for people with pre-existing conditions. The possibility that states may do away with safeguards for pre-existing conditions would have serious ramifications for the overall marketplace and the quality of life for millions of Americans.

Director of State Advocacy and Alliance Development for U.S. Pain Shaina Smith recently sat down with U.S. Pain ambassador-advocate Dania Palanker to discuss the situation. Palanker currently is assistant research professor at the Center on Health Insurance Reforms (CHIR) at Georgetown’s Health Policy Institute. As someone who analyzes state and federal health insurance market reforms, including the implementation of the ACA, Palanker understands the insurance benefit design and coverage for health conditions. As an individual who lives with chronic pain, Palanker also has a personal stake in the matter.

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Peek and Tyler Cashman with the funds raised from Penny Wars

Sadie Peek, one of U.S. Pain’s pediatric pain warriors, is proof that one young person really can have an impact on the world. Last year, as a junior at St. Bernard School in Uncasville, CT, she had a great idea: setting up a fundraiser for U.S. Pain that would allow classes to compete against each other—even undermine each other—to raise donations. “Penny Wars on Pain” was born.

“Penny Wars on Pain” uses a novel approach to raising money. Like many other fundraisers, there’s a prize for the class that raises the most money (in this case, the winners celebrated with a donut party); unlike most other fundraisers, there’s an element of sabotage in play. The challenge’s basis is to raise the greatest amount of money using the smallest possible denominations of coins. Each class has a donation box, and each penny added by a student is a positive point for his or her class. The twist is that students then can sabotage the other classes by dropping denominations larger than a penny into other classes’ bins, which counts for negative points for the class receiving them. For instance, if you drop $1? That’s negative 100 points.

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U.S. Pain is asking its community to take a 22-question demographics survey. The survey takes about seven minutes to complete and covers types of pain condition, pain severity, treatment options, and more.

“We want to make sure we are effectively supporting and advocating for our pain warriors,” says Nicole Hemmenway, Interim CEO of U.S. Pain. “In order to do that, we need to understand their experiences.”

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The term “advocacy” holds different meanings for different people. When you are a person living with chronic illness, advocating for your health needs, for safe and effective care, and for affordable access to therapies, become a part of your everyday life. That’s according to Director of State Advocacy and Alliance Development Shaina Smith, who says advocacy begins with the person living with chronic pain and can expand into the doctor’s office, to insurance coverage plans, and to state and federal policy.

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