A number of reputable organizations can provide useful information to people who experience chronic pain, which is often defined as pain lasting more than six months which cannot be completely cured by medical treatment.
While updating the internet links in my book on this topic, The Chronic Pain Management Sourcebook, I made a survey of organizations of this type. Here is a short list of 20 organizations and links of possible interest to people who suffer from chronic pain or their family members.
American Chronic Pain Association-According to the ACAP’s official history, ACPA founder Penney Cowan learned pain management skills at the renowned Cleveland Clinic, and began an organization to share what she had learned with others who suffer from chronic pain. The ACPA’s mission is peer support and education about chronic pain, which it provides to people with chronic pain, their families, and health care professionals. The ACAP oversees several hundred support groups around the US, Canada and Great Britain. www.theacpa.org
American Pain Foundation – An educational organization founded in 1997 to provide medically accurate information to people living with pain, healthcare providers, and allied organizations. www.painfoundation.org
National Chronic Pain Outreach Association – This educational organization has some useful information on its website, as well as some paid commercial material. It has some articles of possible interest on topics such as chronic pain, the stigma, and the dynamics it creates within the family. www.chronicpain.org
Friends Health Connection is a support organization that combats the isolation many people with pain feel by connecting people with particular health problems or issues with others who have “been there.” It also posts free talks by various experts on a variety of educational and motivational topics. (800) 48-FRIEND www.friendshealthconnection.org The National Family Caregivers Association offers information and support to caregivers. (800)896-3650 www.nfcacares.org
National Institute of Health’s Clinical Trials listing – When I recently inputted “chronic pain” into the NIH clinical trials database, I got a total of 1,637 matches of prospective, recruiting, active, and completed clinical trials on various aspects of chronic pain. Trials utilizing hypnosis, acupuncture, new medications, physical therapy and other strategies are recruiting or underway. clinicaltrialsfeeds.org
National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine-This is a good place to begin looking into complementary or alternative therapies, many of which can supplement or in some cases surpass conventional medical treatment for chronic pain. The US government website contains information about alternative medical approaches, available research, and tips on finding a practitioner, and more. nccam.nih.gov
National Institute of Neurological Diseases-The National Institutes of Health has compiled a virtual encyclopedia of disorders. Each listing contains useful patient information on treatments, prognosis, research, and links to related organizations. www.ninds.nih.gov
American Sleep Association-People in pain often have trouble sleeping. The National Sleep Foundation estimates that as many as 20 percent of American adults experience pain that interrupts their sleep. This website provides help to the public and healthcare professionals on sleep disorders, insomnia treatments, sleep labs, clinical trials, support groups and more. www.sleepassociation.org
Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association – Paying for medications can sometimes be a problem, and most drug companies will provide some help to people in dire need of particular drugs. The PMA provides a list of drug companies which will provide free or low cost medication to people in need and unable to pay for it. www.phrma.org
PubMed – This free portal offers any member of the general public a way to search of National Library of Medicine databases for studies on any topic of interest. Abstracts or summaries of particular articles are always provided, and sometimes complete articles are available online. pubmed.gov
Chronic pain is one of medicine’s most complex health issues, and one of the most frustrating. Educating yourself about available treatment alternatives and strategies may be empowering if it leads to more informed medical decisions.