U.S. Pain Foundation’s Cindy Steinberg, National Director of Policy and Advocacy, has been leading a small workgroup focused on efforts at the federal level to advance the recommendations in the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Pain Management Best Practices Inter-Agency Task Force Report.

In August, the chairs and ranking members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Health Subcommittee, and Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee sent a letter to HHS Secretary Alex Azar acknowledging the pandemic public health crisis we face, but reminding the secretary that we cannot lose sight of the other ongoing public health crisis of substance use disorder (SUD) and overdose, which has been exacerbated by the pandemic. These legislators asked the secretary for a briefing on the SUD crisis and recommendations on what more the federal government needs to do to address this crisis.

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Learn about telehealth

As the pandemic continues, telehealth appointments have become essential to health care, including pain management. But there is still a lot of uncertainty about how to use telehealth, what services can be provided virtually, what telehealth costs, and more.

Despite the uncertainty, patients want and need access to telehealth. According to our August survey of 1,581 people with pain, about 90% would like telehealth to continue beyond COVID-19.

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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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In July, the U.S. Pain Foundation announced the creation of the Disparities Solutions Advisory Council. The goal of the council is to improve health equity and inclusion for those within the chronic pain community.

The council meets virtually with Nicole Hemmenway, CEO, to discuss their insights, opportunities for improvement, and new projects, including an upcoming INvisible Project on health care disparities. (If you are a patient and are interested in being featured, fill out this questionnaire.)

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Our exploration of tools to help you reduce your pain and improve your overall health and well-being continues this month with our next “Building Your Toolbox” event on Tuesday, Nov. 10 at 7:30 pm ET. Please note the date change due to Election Day.

About Building Your Toolbox

Building Your Toolbox is unique in that it is held in a meeting format on Zoom, so participants can see, hear, and interact with the speaker and one another. At the end of a short presentation by the speaker, participants will have a chance to ask her questions directly. The conversation will be guided by Gwenn Herman, LCSW, DCSW, Clinical Director of Pain Connection, and long-time support group leader, Bobbi Blades.

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Many of us have heard about spinal cord stimulation (SCS) for pain relief. But what does the process entail, how does it work, and what type of pain benefits the most from it?

Join us on Thursday, Oct. 29, at 1 pm ET for a Zoom webinar to find out about SCS with interventional pain management expert Shalini Shah, MD.

Dr. Shah will discuss:

    • What SCS is and how it works
    • Common diagnoses of patients who may benefit from SCS
    • SCS safety
    • How SCS has changed over the years
    • The SCS process – from choosing the right device to the trial

    Dr. Shah is Vice-Chair for the Department of Anesthesiology & Perioperative Care and Enterprise Director of Pain Services for University of California Irvine Health. She also is the current President-Elect for the California Society of Interventional Pain Physicians. You can learn more about her here.

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No pain, no gain

By: Michaela O’Connor

There’s a saying in the chronic pain community, “whoever said no pain, no gain never had chronic pain.” At first, I fully and whole-heartedly agreed with the quote. As a chronic pain patient, I could not see anything I had gained from the constant pain I lived with. I saw this quote again more recently and realized that it was no longer true, at least, not for me. I still understand the meaning of the quote and the endless desire to live without pain; however, I also understand how much I have gained over the past fourteen years, in spite of my pain.

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Generational pandemic losses

By: Ellen Lenox Smith

As we attempt to stay safe, we also are hoping to see the light at the end of this long tunnel with hopes of returning to some form of normalcy. My husband and I are in our 70s and have faced issues that the younger generation has not and vice versa. We are clearly all dealing with many similar issues – working to keep hands clean, wearing masks, social distancing, and losing activities and connections to people we have enjoyed in our lives. But let’s take a moment to understand just a few of the differences one is experiencing depending on their age.

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By: Brandy Garcia

At 16 years old I had no idea that I would be battling chronic pain for more than 10 years. At that point, my migraine headaches were just annoying and bothered me when I wanted to have fun. Little did I know I was in for a battle of a lifetime with my pain and mental health. I spent years fighting the idea of the disease rather than treating it. The stereotype of a sick person was stuck in my head and ruled my life for so long.

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On Sept. 24, the Alliance to Advance Comprehensive Integrative Pain Management (AACIPM) hosted a virtual symposium, “Equity in Access to Comprehensive Integrative Pain Management in Chronic Pain,” in partnership with the U.S. Pain Foundation. Throughout the day, patients, providers, policymakers, and payors shared information and ideas to help bridge the gap between quality pain care and underserved communities.

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