By Deborah Ellis, ND, CTN

If you’re like me, and millions of others, you’ve probably suffered with chronic pain for a year or longer. Chronic pain affects 50 million Americans, 20 million of whom have high-impact chronic pain. It has been linked to increased risk of major mental conditions including depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Science understands a body in chronic pain continually sends stress signals to the brain, leading to a heightened perception of not only the pain itself but also the perceived level of threat. It’s a vicious cycle that’s hard to break or control.

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Did you know that pain is the leading cause of long-term disability in America?

During a webinar on March 19, we’ll be talking about the challenges of working with chronic pain and considerations for applying for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). Our featured speaker is Rebecca Ray of Allsup, one of the leading national providers of SSDI representation.

Through the webinar, you’ll learn about:

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In late December, a high-ranking federal task force released a draft report with recommendations for improving the management of chronic and acute pain nationwide. The landmark report will be finalized and submitted to Congress at the end of May. The pain community is being asked to give feedback on the report by April 1–less than a month away.

“It is vital that people with pain weigh in,” says Cindy Steinberg, National Director of Policy and Advocacy, who was the only patient and patient advocacy representative on the task force. “This report could change people with pain’s lives for the better. It promotes a multidisciplinary, multimodal approach to pain care and addresses barriers to accessing effective treatment. It says that treatment decisions should be made on a case-by-case basis that considers the unique situation of each patient. It addresses the stigma around chronic pain and lack of public, provider and patient education on pain management. It provides a comprehensive view of the gaps in pain care in the United States today and detailed recommendations on how to ameliorate them.”

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From Feb. 10 through 13, representatives from U.S. Pain Foundation proudly participated in Headache on the Hill (HOH) in Washington, DC, for the second year in a row. Organized by the Alliance for Headache Advocacy, HOH is an event that bring together patients, caregivers, and providers to advocate for people with headache, migraine, and cluster diseases at the federal level.

This year, a total 160 advocates attended, including 23 individuals–a combination of staff, volunteers, INvisible Project participants and individuals from Chronic Migraine Awareness–sponsored by U.S. Pain Foundation in thanks to Amgen and Novartis.

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Photo courtesy of HELP committee

On Feb. 12, for the first time in years, Congress held a hearing on chronic pain. We were proud to have Cindy Steinberg, National Director of Policy and Advocacy, as one of the four selected witnesses who gave testimony. As a reminder, you can watch a recording of the hearing here.

Hearing makes headlines

The hearing–and Steinberg’s remarks in particular–received a multitude of coverage at the national and local level. Here are some of those articles.

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Even though the draft report from the Pain Management Best Practices Inter-Agency Task Force is vitally important, it’s understandable that people with pain may not have the time or energy for reading a 91-page report. With that in mind, we have pulled together some excerpts from the report to help the pain community understand its key tenets.

To read the full report or learn more about how to submit comment, click here.

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