Chronic Pain’s Shifting Role in our Society’s “Theaters of Compassion”

Pain: A Political History

In America, from the 1950’s forward, pain, and specifically chronic pain, has become a “political football” and “the Trojan Horse” according to author Keith Wailoo (out of Princeton University’s Wilson [Woodrow] School of Public and International Affairs).

Pain, the disability of it, the medications involved in addressing it, the high suicide rates associated with it, along with many other aspects of the condition are presented by Keith Waterloo in his origin look at pain- focusing on how government, politics and the courts have radically impacted the way society understands, addresses and treats the condition. For those living in chronic pain the changing attitudes in regards to, approaches towards and services available for those living with chronic pain have been dramatically affected by these American societal forces.

“Tracing the development of pain theories in politics, medicine, law, and society, and battles over the morality and economics of relief…

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Having Trouble Getting, Accessing or Paying for Healthcare?

Many Americans, and especially those who are most in need of healthcare, like those with a chronic “high-impact” condition like chronic pain, are experiencing significant distress with the current situation within our healthcare system.

Doctors are no longer taking certain kinds of insurance, including Medicare and Medical, many medications have become extremely, oft times prohibitively, expensive and health insurance has become so costly, in some cases ruinously so or simply too expensive to afford. And let’s not even start talking about attempting to understand or get a handle on your medical bills or trying to get someone within the healthcare system who even understands, let alone who can navigate through it to help you.

We are at a crossroads though and now is the time to give voice and advocate for help and change….

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“She Lived Dying”

Frida Kahlo is a famous 20th century artist who became an embodiment of Mexican culture, especially indigenous culture (notably however, her father was German).

She also knew a thing or two about chronic pain.
The Broken Column

Her life was marked by tragic levels of injury and trauma. She contracted Polio at  6 leaving her with one deformed leg that was significantly shorter than the other and wore long skirts all her life to hide her deformity.

At age 18, Kahlo was in a horrendous bus accident and suffered nearly fatal injuries, a metal rail impaled her through her pelvis, fracturing it, several vertebra and ribs, her legs, and a collarbone. During her life she went through 35 operations (possibly more) to “fix” …

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Pain Treatment Centers ~ Sure Sounds Like a Good Idea. No?

Along the way, after having tried many things, as those with a chronic condition are given to do, you may have come across the idea of going to an in-patient pain treatment center.

A week or so of having medical experts and alternative health care practitioners come together with you to specifically focus on and explore your unique condition and then carve out a path, a holistic strategy, to improve your health and quality of living is a pretty darn exciting premise, especially if you’ve run through just about every kind and type of cure. And, as you’ve tried other alternatives already, insurance would do surly their part.

It sounds like a really great idea, doesn’t it?

And although such facilities do exist, and many of them really excellent ones- such as…



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Advocating for Chronic Pain Support from our Government Representatives

The following is inspired by the Partners for Understanding Pain 

WRITING LETTERS TO MEMBERS OF CONGRESS AND GOVERNORS can have a tremendous impact and create significant positive change. As many people do not take the time or effort to do so, writing even one letter can have real influence- remember our government representatives work for us, the people. Hearing directly from constituents matters. It is vital for the welfare of not only ourselves but the entire chronic pain community-patients, care providers and the medical community that supports and sustains us- that we bring to the attention of our elected officials the enormous influence pain has upon health care costs, economic productivity, and human suffering.

With our new President and the legislators who work with his new administration to form their agenda, along with the push to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Healthcare Act aka Obamacare, now is a crucial time to make our voices heard.


To contact your congresstional representative and senators, log on to

Below is a sample letter that you can copy  and use. Go ahead and modify it to reflect your own concerns as appropriate.

Share this information with members of your support team, your family and friends and ask them to write letters too. Giving them the contact information and a copy of your letter may help.

You may also wish to post the letter on your social media account(s) to encourage others in your circle to join in and help bring the issue of pain to the attention of our government and too, plant seeds within our society to bring attention to the condition of chronic pain and the magnitude of its impact on our society- beyond the media’s laser-like focus on the issue of painkiller abuse ( a small component of the much larger pain management issue).


Be sure to include your name (or the organization that you are representing).






City, State, Zip

Dear Senator or Governor (last name),

As you prepare to begin your work with the new administration and too, addressing the affordable Healthcare Act,  I ask for your support in considering the importance and impact of chronic pain on our society.

Pain is a major health issue.  It is the number-one cause of adult disability in the United States and affects one in three people or about 100 million Americans.  According to an omnibus survey of 1,000 Americans conducted for the Partners for Understanding Pain, 34 percent of respondents said they currently live with ongoing pain. In spite of its pervasiveness, few physicians receive more than a few hours of formal training in pain management

Pain is a major economic issue. According to the National Institute of Medicine report, Relieving Pain in America: A Blueprint for Transforming Prevention, Care, Education, and Research,  pain costs more than $600 billion annually in lost workdays, medical expenses, and other benefit costs. Skyrocketing health care costs leave some, especially senior citizens, minorities, and the urban and rural poor, unable to get treatment that can help them manage their pain. Also, for millions of Americans pain medications are a vital part of their healthcare regimen, and the use of Opiates should not be villionized by the mid-deeds of the few. Pain is real and can be devastating in a number of ways. The seriousness and cost of the problem demand attention.

Pain is a major social issue, with an impact, well beyond the individual, on his or her spouse or partner, children, family, and community.

Partners for Understanding Pain brings together both health care professionals and patient organizations to build understanding of chronic, acute, and cancer pain issues and the impact of pain today. For more information about Partners for Understanding Pain, call 1800-533-3231 or visit

We ask you to support our efforts to have pain taken seriously as you craft new healthcare legislation and too, by declaring September National Pain Awareness Month.

Thank you for your consideration to this very important issue.