Pain Awareness Month (PAM), held every September, is devoted to raising awareness and furthering education in pain management techniques and practices. PAM began in 2001 when a number organizations united in the coalition “Partners for Understanding Pain”. Together, this coalition established September as Pain Awareness Month to raise awareness through mass media, public forums, and other sources so that chronic pain may be more readily recognized and better understood.

Chronic pain, a broad and general term, is often dismissed in favor of “bigger” health concerns such as cancer, AIDS, disabilities, dementia, etc. However, chronic pain is a product of these more publicized ailments, and a recent Institute of Medicine (IOM) report reveals:

  • Approximately one third of Americans live with chronic pain – more than 116 million people
  • Chronic suffering costs the country $560 to $635 billion each year in medical bills, lost productivity, and missed work
  • The prescription of opioids is on the rise—going from 3.2% of the population in 1988-94 to 5.7% in 2005-08

A quick look at the titles Springer Publishing Company has released in the past few years in the “Compact Guide to….Pain Management” series gives us an idea of the types of pain that affect millions of Americans each day, such as Infant and Child Pain, Geriatric Pain, Cancer Pain, Acute Pain, Chronic Pain, and Critical Care, Trauma and Emergency Pain. Pain Awareness Month is observed with the goal of gathering widespread support for Pain Management, enacting policy changes that provide correct care to those suffering, and informing the public of the seriousness of this medical concern. These can only be achieved through spreading the word.