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A recording is now available of U.S. Pain Foundation’s Nov. 26 panel discussion, “Chronic pain and the risk of suicide: A staggering crisis and what to do about it.”

The event was prompted by a study published this September in the Annals of Internal Medicine, which found that more than 10 percent of suicide cases in the United States involve chronic pain. Panelists discussed reasons behind this statistic, offer tips for coping with the mental health challenges pain creates, and gave suggestions for how clinicians and caregivers can help.

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According to a study published this September in the Annals of Internal Medicine, more than 10 percent of suicide cases in the United States involve chronic pain. We have long known that people with pain are more likely to struggle with depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation–on top of physical suffering. But this number is staggering, and indicates the need for more awareness around the degree of despair pain can cause.

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Smith aboard a cruise ship.

By Anne M. Smith, owner of Travel & Events Extraordinaire and a U.S. Pain ambassador

When I was first bombarded with multiple pain conditions nine years ago, I was completely overwhelmed, and there are still days when it tries to overtake me. As a travel agency owner and event manager, I have had to completely restructure my life, my business and, more importantly, the way I travel.

To understand the difficulties I face, you can think of my nervous system wiring as being totally rerouted. It is akin to a highway construction manager putting up detour signs for my nerves all throughout my body—they are confused with which exit to take. So, they have gone haywire, leaving central nervous sensitization in its path and my pain receptors are all on high alert. Couple that with referring pain and we have a map of tangled highways, streets, and roads going around in an endless cloverleaf exit ramp.

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TUCSON, ARIZ., AND MIDDLETOWN, CONN. (August 3, 2018)–The Massage Therapy Foundation announced today that it has awarded a $5,000 Community Service Grant to the U.S. Pain Foundation, the leading chronic pain advocacy organization in the country. The grant will fund free massage therapy and self-massage training to people living with pain, in an effort to understand whether massage therapy can help reduce the use of pain medications. U.S. Pain Foundation’s proposal was one of four recipients selected by the Massage Therapy Foundation from a total of 46 applications nationwide.

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On June 16 and 17, U.S. Pain Foundation hosted an intensive training for nine future chronic pain support group leaders in Chicago, IL.

The training program was developed by Gwenn Herman, LCSW, DCSW, clinical director of Pain Connection, a program of U.S. Pain. By training more group leaders, U.S. Pain hopes to expand its network of support groups. Presently, U.S. Pain and Pain Connection offer support groups in eight states: Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Arizona, Washington, and California, in addition to three conference call support groups.

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U.S. Pain Foundation’s Pain Connection has launched several new support groups. Four of the new groups are in-person: two have already begun meeting in Vancouver, WA, and Pascua Yaqui Tribe, AZ; two additional groups will begin meeting in Sacramento, CA, and in Bloomington, IN, in June and August, respectively. Full details are available on the Pain Connection website. In addition, the Pain Connection Live conference call support group is now meeting for a new, third session each month, on Saturdays at 11 am EST.

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Two U.S. Pain Foundation staff members–Cindy Steinberg, national director of Policy and Advocacy, and Gwenn Herman, LCSW, DCSW, clinical director of Pain Connection–have been nominated to serve on influential committees within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

Steinberg was announced May 1 as one of 28 members appointed to the newly established Pain Management Best Practices Inter-Agency Task Force. Steinberg is the only representative selected from a patient organization. The task force, created as part of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2016, aims to outline best practices and address gaps and inconsistencies in the management of acute and chronic pain.

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On March 3 and 4, U.S. Pain Foundation hosted an intensive training for 11 future chronic pain support group leaders in Phoenix, AZ.

The training program was developed by Gwenn Herman, LCSW, DCSW, clinical director of Pain Connection, a program of U.S. Pain. By training more group leaders, U.S. Pain hopes to expand its network of support groups. Presently, U.S. Pain and Pain Connection offer support groups in eight states: Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Arizona, and California, in addition to three conference call support groups.

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Special scholarships are available to eligible U.S. Pain volunteers to attend a two-day training program for support group leaders on March 2-4 in Phoenix, AZ. Two additional trainings will be held in Chicago and New York later this year.

Run by Pain Connection, a program of U.S. Pain, the trainings are designed to teach professionals/peer leaders to work with individuals with chronic pain in a group setting. The trainers are: Gwenn Herman, LCSW, DCSW, clinical director of Pain Connection, and Cindy Steinberg, U.S. Pain’s national director of policy and advocacy. The training provides education on the psychosocial aspects of chronic pain, the ABC’s of starting and running a support group. group work process, program development, and leadership, as well as receiving support for the chronic pain support group leaders.

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Photo of Gwenn Herman, courtesy of Bethesda Magazine.

In May 2016, Pain Connection — a well-known 501(c)(3) nonprofit that provides  support groups, support group trainings, and resources to help individuals with chronic illness and pain as well as their families — joined forces with U.S. Pain Foundation.

Pain Connection offers in-person support groups in four states: Arizona, California, Connecticut, and Maryland. But individuals with pain from anywhere in the country–or those who have difficulty traveling–can also get support via the “Pain Connection Live” conference call program, which offers two, hour-long support calls a month.

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