Pain Awareness Month Ends – What Comes Next?

Pain Awareness Month Ends - What Comes Next?

As Pain Awareness Month comes to a close, it’s fair to say that the chronic pain community is aware—understanding that the U.S. health care system is not living up to promises that patients feel should be kept.

We know the statistics:

  • Chronic pain — low back pain, headaches, arthritis, neuropathy and many other forms of it — costs American society $635 billion annually.
  • At least 50 million people—some say double that—suffer from chronic pain.
  • The many varieties of chronic pain make up the most common and disabling health problem in the world.

But as our readers know too well, most of the attention paid to the chronic pain community has not been aimed at patients at all. Rather, it has been a government emphasis on the “opioid issue”. The result has been a notable reduction in opioid prescribing (but not in addiction). Chronic pain patients who use opioids responsibly have become collateral damage in the last several years—seeing their medications reduced or outright denied.

Many have been abandoned—some have killed themselves.

Many pain leaders have been arguing that the government’s approach to the “opioid issue” has been wronghead.

“We lack the data to say we are reducing opioids the right way — safely and effectively, wrote Beth Darnall Ph.D. of Stanford. “Existing policies fail to recognize the needs of the individual.”

A very promising and comprehensive plan to change how chronic pain is treated was released earlier this year by the Department of Health and Human Services. The report provides advice and recommendations for the development of best practices for pain management and prescribing pain medication.

The implementation of the report has been stalled, in part because Dr. Vanila Singh, the Chairperson of the Pain Management Inter-Agency Task Force has left the HHS and it’s unclear who the “in-agency” advocate (if any) will be.

Here’s an interview we did with Dr. Singh right after the report was issued.

The Washington Post ran a story last weekend promoting the idea of new discoveries that could transform the treatment of long-term pain, allowing doctors, psychologists, physical therapists and others to intervene before pain becomes chronic, or provide alternatives to drugs when it does.

The importance of medical innovation to treat pain was also captured in this column by Nancy Budny for the National Pain Report on Sunday.

But for pain patients who are suffering today, the idea of more innovation is important, but they have a much more urgent concern.

They can’t wait. They need help now.

The U.S. Pain Foundation just concluded a month-long observance they entitled #LetsTalkAboutPain

It was a success.

But the talking about and the advocacy and the delivery of better treatment of chronic pain doesn’t end when October starts.

It continues.

Millions of people demand it.

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Authored by: Ed Coghlan

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Gail Honadle

The government will not change anything as long as Pharma and chain Pharmacies are Money cows. Just this week several BP meds and Zantac have been ‘recalled’ due to the same Cancer from China agent in them. Time we all went back to Made in AMERICA medication. They have no intention to clean up their act.

My mind is turning about diagnosis of fibromyalgia. So I asked the doctor last year what causes trigger points and he said it’s fibromyalgia and that you have low serotonin. So 1of the diagnosis includes for fibromyalgia is depression caused by low serotonin. Treatment no opiates or steroids. Doc said pain your feeling in your head, yet he proceeded to inject steroids in the areas called trigger pts . The reason I saw doc was pain from bone spur that pinched nerve in my neck but somehow that wasn’t included in diagnosis. Hum? I was unable to turn my neck due to stiffness / pain and it did travel from neck to shoulders blades . Also, no test can evaluate if a person has low serotonin. Hum? I’ve had neck surgery to remove a disc in neck and bone spurs yrs ago. I feel like the main issue was overlooked do what’s the doctor’s specialty was so to get paid it has to be labeled in his specialty. This is a failure on Insurance companies and Medical community. This is how people get labeled with multiple diagnosis that only further complicates/ delays/ labels comorbidities makes the patient look like a mental case BC fibromyalgia has it been proven, most doctors will tell you they believe in it but they really don’t. It’s a label to be used for payment , or get u out of office bc docs control cost for insurance & when your female. I’ve had major life-threatening illness in past, now complications from surgery, bone spurs all labeled fibro. I hate the word fibromyalgia it’s just been a nemesis and almost cost me my life. It’s costing me correct Medical Care. That’s the go-to word for doctors w/o any test to find out what’s really going on, have to beg for yrs, 1 × almost died. My leg is permanently destroyed from 3 blood clots, 6 differant docs labaled it fibro.

Thank you so much Mr.Coghlan. no one will ever know the countless hours that you have worked behind the scenes to help people you don’t even know, I do pray for you and this journey you’re willing to take to fight for people in chronic pain. These are crimes against humanity and many have committed suicide because they could not take insufferable pain. You are a hero whether you realize it or not. Mr. Roberts the veteran is also a hero taking it to court. We need help now or more will be lost. I have trying to reach out to senators failed. One of my chronic pain issues is osteoarthritis and I’ve had surgery in my neck, hip and I needed in my back and even though they can see the bone spurs all they will offer is surgery but nothing for the inflammation of the bone spurs digging in, steroid injections do not work. I have cervical and Lumbar radiculopathy plus many more things I won’t list. I am being unnecessarily tortured. Thank you for your dedication in helping someone you don’t even know. God bless you and give you strength to carry on.

Carol Bricko

From my perspective, a large percentage of senior citizens, chronically ill, disabled, pain persons’ Constitutional Rights are being violated. I am speaking of our right for our grievances to be heard by our government. This being a right, the system should provide the means to accomplish this. Due to various disabilities, access is virtually denied. Other issues include, but are not limited to the chronic stonewalling, the metaphorical burying of “troubling” patients/persons and awareness of thier very real, legitamat suffering 200 feet below Jimmy Hoffa’s body, along side other such mysteries/ unspeakables. This allows for sleight of hand tricks, like others speaking for us thus promoting the use of people such as myself to continue to be exploited as thier unquestionable source of income. We are the coal (never the status of diamonds) others are used to mine us for thier very greedy, unethical reasons. This would make one great class action suit! In my personal situation, the providers, who are beyond reproach, have falsified my records, slandered, libeled and defamed my character. I am blacklisted and prevented from any medical and most government services. Yes they have threatened to take away my Medicare benefits (moot issue since no one will see me now after years of taking my money with no treatments- just continued refusal to look at my records, refusal to do an exam, etc. (Yes more violations of the law that the medical licensing bureau refuses to investigate. Unfortunately, many of you may have your own stories that can attest to these crimes against humanity . The saga continues. Best of the best to all!

Jeanette French

Just wondering when we will have a new chair person to replace Dr. Vanila Singh will happen, we need someone desperately now. thanks

Gloria brooks

I am 75 and I have severe pain. Nothing is helping!! I take norco but it is not helping. My pain medicine dr. Doesn’t seem to care. I have pain in my foot, knee, back, and bone on bone pain in my hip. All of this is on my left side. I was scheduled surgery last October but at the last minute they cancelled the surgery because they had to place three stents and put me on plavix. I was told I would have to wait a year for hip surgery, again. The pain has gotten worse . No amoun t of norco, nsaid, or physical therapy will help. Now they have discovered a spot on my lungs. Along with a PT scan for that, they want to do a full body scan. Most of all there is the pain that takes over my mind. Will I last another year while the good old politicians get their pain meds ,whenever they want, and they want to deny us help.

Rosalind Rivera

Did I tell anyone that I had emergency surgery one evening because the morning before that day, I woke up to find that I was paralyzed from the neck down? Did I mention that at the first emergency room the doctor said that I was faking and that there was nothing wrong with me and that I just wanted narcotics? Did I tell anyone that she tried to force me to get up and walk?
I didn’t tell anyone other than my children who rushed me to another hospital in which a surgical team sprung into action after x-rays, scans and MRIs clearly showed that my spine had collapsed while I slept and that it had been made worse by the fall from where I had fallen asleep as well as the agonizing 13 hours that I spent, screaming for help while on a freezing wooden floor in the dead of winter. I didn’t and couldn’t tell how I had vomited, urinated and defecated on myself because I couldn’t move but I do know that all medical personnel and my children were starkly and disgustingly aware of it!
Oh and by the way, though it is an small and insignificant matter, I should mention that the agony after the very much failed surgery should have been avoided as I found out 7 years later that the rod, plates, screws and bolts, never fused to my spine! Would you say that aside from my Lupus and a few other auto-immune deseases, I have reason to complain as well as legitimate reasons for needing opioids just to stay alive and to stay sane or I could do like so many others and take the ultimate and final way out!
It’s something to consider and I can absolutely see why so many have and will continue to do so.

Rosalind Rivera

My point exactly!
There is much talk and much ideas and planning but all come to naught as absolutely no action has actually taken place in resolving the issue that millions, myself included have been suffering, am suffering and I promise you will continue to suffer chronology c and intractable pain for a very long time before anything if at all comes to pass allowing us to finally receive the appropriate treatments including the correct dosages that our body and minds require in order to function and to stop our mere existence and begin our lives once again. In my opinion? I don’t see that happening!

Maureen M.

Well said Ed. That’s it wrapped up in s nut shell! Thank you. God help the Pain Community.


It seems to me that we keep reading the same stories about the same situation with nothing changing or is it just my imagination?

Legally the function of Dr Singh’s National Pain Strategy panel was to create Guidelines that bring the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act into compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act. The Singh panel concluded that care must be individualized to the needs of each patient because it is not possible to construct a uniform pain treatment that’s equally helpful to everyone. While that flies in the face of Andrew Kolodny’s false teachings, it does zilch to fix the Kolodny problem because the DEA uses the Kolodny lies as if they are true. Until patients organize and sue the DEA to compel it to stop following lies and accept the truth, DEA policy will continue to be anti life, anti patient, and anti-American.

Mr. Coghlan,
Thank you so much for fighting this “I can’t believe this is happening in America “ battle for all of us who suffer!!! Since so many have chronic pain, I would assume that all that vote against opioids for CP…have someone in their family that needs to take these meds!!! Warrior on and I will too!!! Blessings, Stacy

David Hickle

What comes next is death to humanity from pain

Patricia Bradley

I haven’t seen or heard anything to show chronic pain patients are being helped at all Dr’s are still denying to prescribe my opiates ..I can not find anyone to help ..So what has this month really done??Until the CDC steps in nothing is going to change and they are being silent. .

Bill Viverito

Ed- I wrote my story and submitted to your .org before your last webcast. I hope it helped. Thanks for fighting the good fight.

Thomas Kidd

Mr. Ed Coghlan I appreciate you very very much. God bless you.


Mr. Coghlan:

It is very appreciated that someone is compiling, organizing and disseminating relevant data that supports the facts of chronic pain.

Thank you for your hard work and dedication to pain sufferers. We feel a little less alone, and a lot more championed, in this uphill battle.


Mrs. L.M. Castro.

Duane Michaels

My name is Duane Michaels. I’m what I would consider myself to be a victim of a broken system. My reference being a variance of chronic to sometimes intractable pain. As it’s been decades of dealing with pain, I’ve always been an advocate of not using opioids. In fact as a person whose done extremely hard labor my entire life, I’ve always tried to exercise, keep a strong core and at times accept some pain is to be expected. This past decade and at almost sixty-one years old that stategy is now compromised by a broken system.
In 2010 I was sleeping in the back of a tractor trailer when my co-worker fell asleep and crashed the truck. At the time I lived in Colorado, the accident was in Iowa and the company was headquartered in Nebraska. I was hospitalized in Iowa and diagnosed with a broken sternum. Workers compensation kicked in and after attending physical therapy they kept trying to get me back to work. In fact the compensation board tried to deny my sternum injury and claim it was a genetic defect.

Months went by and I was constantly in terrible pain especially when standing at a counter or lying down. I was sent to physical therapy twice and I specifically told the therapist that the main impact was my right shoulder blade/scapula. The company put me in the terminal and instead of driving I was cleaning showers and doing physical work. I kept complaining of the terrible pain and eventually was put at a desk to work. It didn’t matter what I did, I was still in pain.

Within about six months I went for a routine CAT scan because I had a history of cancer dating back to 2002. When my radiologist read the scan he noticed I had five recently broken ribs that weren’t on the last years scan. Since the accident they found a compression fracture, four herniated discs and my scapula has a severe tear along with five or six more tears. I’ve also had to have rotator cuff surgery and have been living in pain since the accident.

I’m injured and they missed it fo
Nine ye

Susan Domokos

So.. As of 9/19/19 i have to undergo a pill count and potentially be fired if not correct ..i am veing forced to buy the med marijuana card or i can be fired for a dirty pee test…i cannot have xanax for my Hi-anxiety AND smoke marijuana AND take pain meds….or i can be fired…this affects both my pain dr relationship and psychiatrist relationship …DOES ANYONE REALIZE THAT I AM VERBALLY AND EMOTIONALLY ABUSED EVERY SINGLE PAIN APPT???? That i have resorted to taking my granddaughter to pain appts so i won’t be yelled at? That my pain is overwhelming and life altering and stupid af and yelling at me just makes it worse? But pain dr can’t give me stronger numbing cream or stronger muscle relaxers…omg..i know this might not make sense this Monday sugar is 60.. I NEED A DAMN BREAK PEOPLE…

Katrina Bergman

My body is shutting down because my mind can’t take the painI can only pray that God stops the suffering😇

If only one person could or would change this, we would have a hero that would go down in our history books forever. You can better well believe that one day the word opioid crisis, what caused it and what it did to billions of innocent people will be. It will be right up there with the stories about Hitler. The stories about the experiments done with LSD that our government did so very long ago on unknowing victims along with many other horror stories that could have been avoided, if only….