It’s Pain Awareness Month: Group offers peer support for those suffering with chronic pain

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Pain affects more Americans than diabetes, heart disease and cancer combined.  In 2016 the CDC estimated 20.4 percent (50 million) of U.S. adults have chronic pain and 8 percent (19.6 million) have high-impact chronic pain that frequently limits life or work activities.  Chronic pain is defined as persistent pain lasting longer than 3-6 months that exists beyond an expected time for healing, despite accepted medical treatment. It can be either continuous or recurrent but of sufficient duration and intensity to adversely affect a patient’s well-being, level of functioning and quality of life.  Pain is cited as the most common reason Americans access the health care system and is a leading cause of disability. Many sufferers refer to it as the ‘invisible illness’ because “You don’t look sick.”

For many years the Elliot has facilitated a chronic pain support group that meets twice monthly from September through June.  Meetings are held at the Elliot at Rivers Edge Campus on the second and fourth, Tuesdays of each month from 5-6:30 p.m., located at 185 Queen City Ave.   This is a free service, open to the public with no reservations needed and welcomes anyone (and their family members) living with an ongoing pain problem who wants to put forth an effort to help themselves. 

Our goal is to provide support, validation and education in basic pain management and life skills. Local practitioners from our community, both Western and Eastern Medicine, present on a wide variety of topics from acupuncture and chair yoga to nutrition and medical marijuana.  Living with chronic pain can be very isolating and the support group can offer a feeling of community and knowing that you are not alone.

The group shares coping strategies and learned experiences with members inspiring each other to create more satisfying lives with the pain. Everyone is encouraged to create their own ‘toolbox’ and individuals just keep trying to add new tools … because it’s never just one thing that navigates the healing journey…and no two toolboxes are the same.  We do not dwell on symptoms but try to focus on abilities, not disabilities. With that said, people speak openly and freely about their pain and its control over their lives but the goal is to try and deal with it in positive ways.  Group discussions often end with a meditation or guided imagery with the hope of easing the tension and trying to be more conscious of our minds control over our physical bodies. Pain has both a physical and emotional response and recognizing the difference is part of the battle.

There may not be a cure for the pain but there is still life with the pain.  The chronic pain support group is there to lend a helping hand and a friendly ear to anyone willing to help themselves lead a more satisfying life.  The meetings are always judgment-free and confidential with light refreshments served. In case of inclement weather, cancellations are posted on WMUR and WZID.  Call 663-2881 for more information.



About this Author

Donna Poirier, RN, HNB-BC