All chronic pain patients struggle with managing their pain.
“It’s normal, not a personal flaw.”
Those words from Stanford University pain psychologist Dr. Heather Poupore-King set the tone for the 6th annual Women in Pain Conference that was held in Los Angeles. The conference attracted about 100 people, mostly women, and explored how chronic pain patients have to copy and identify positive options for dealing with pain.
“It’s hard for patients to be open,” said Dr. King.
That was a theme echoed by several panelists during the day.
“People didn’t believe what I had because I didn’t look like I was hurting,” said Britt Johnson, who is founder of The Hurt Blogger, a personal diary of her battle with arthritis, migraines and other pain issues.
“Not only did people not believe it, neither did my doctors,” says Johnson.
Her advice -and it reflected the theme of the conference — was to “transform hidden truths into positive action”.
“Stop telling the white lies. Tell your friends and loved ones the truth about how you feel,” she said.
The important and underreported issue of women in pain is beginning to gain more public awareness. The conference was created by For Grace, a Los Angeles based non-profit organization that is devoted to ensuring the ethical and equal treatment of women in pain.
“Women in pain are the largest group of pain patients who are undertreated. It is a huge issue for those of us who treat pain patients, “said Dr. Dan Bennett of Denver, who is also the Chief Medical Officer for the National Pain Report.
Stanford’s Dr. King told the audience that when a patient is diagnosed with chronic pain, “it can be challenging because there is no magic cure.”
When she said, “Coping and learning to live with the pain is sometimes as challenging as the pain itself,” it seemed as it every head in the audience nodded in agreement.
The highlight of the conference was provided by the women who told their very personal stories.
Lynne Popadak, a chronic pain sufferer, is co-organizer of USC’s Quench the Fire Run, which will be held on December 8th in Van Nuys to support education, research and treatment of Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD) and other neuropathic chronic pain diseases.
She spoke pointedly about the ebb and flow that chronic pain patients experience and how important it is to understand that it’s a daily battle versus the pain. She said there will be setbacks, but it’s all in how you handle them.
“If in life you trip,” she said, “make it part of the dance.”
The webcast of the conference generated a significantly larger audience, according to For Grace founder Cynthia Toussaint. The webcast will be available here on the For Grace website after October 1st.
“We are very pleased with the conference. It gave our audience a chance to hear from real women in pain who shared their stories, how they coped and what they’ve learned,” said Toussaint.