September is Pain Awareness Month (PAM). Its purpose is to create greater understanding among health care professionals, legislators, the business community, and families who are struggling with pain management that pain is a serious public health issue.
Pharmacists are perfectly positioned to educate patients, caregivers and their fellow healthcare professionals on various treatment options for pain, promote a more holistic approach to pain management, and reduce reliance on opioid prescriptions.
According to a report from the Institute of Medicine (IOM), chronic pain affects more than 100 million Americans. It’s the leading cause of disability and the primary reason for doctor’s visits. In addition, drug overdose from the use of opioids is now the leading cause of accidental death in the U.S.
The ongoing opioid epidemic is rooted in a problem between two public health challenges: Reducing the burden of suffering from chronic pain and containing the rising toll of the harms that can arise from the use of opioid medications.
How pharmacists can help
Pharmacists can and should play a huge role in helping patients manage pain. Once the pharmacist knows a little more about the pain, he or she can then recommend a non-pharmacologic therapy like light exercise, heat/cold application, or over-the-counter pain relievers for patients with mild to moderate pain.
For more severe or chronic pain, pharmacists are able to manage prescription medications and opioid therapies to ensure patient safety.
In general, pharmacists are excellent advocates for Pain Awareness Month. They are in the position to form strong, trusting relationships with long-term patients that helps ensure more appropriate pain management and control.
Here are six simple ways to promote Pain Awareness Month:
- Spread the word: Share information about PAM and its mission by distributing materials and resources anywhere you can, whether at a library, a doctor’s office, or during your interactions with patients and their caregivers.
- Get social: Promote PAM on your social media channels and share relevant articles on chronic pain to raise awareness about alternative ways to manage pain and to decrease stigma.
- Host an event: Empower and inspire your community by hosting an educational event at your hospital, community center, or library. You can also host an awareness event at a state capitol or other government institution.
- Gain recognition: Bring attention to the pain community by asking your state or town to recognize September as Pain Awareness Month. Call, write letters or send emails to educate government leaders on issues related to pain and pain management.
- Find your partner: Collaborate with various organizations whose mission is to aid those with chronic pain including: American Chronic Pain Association (ACPA), U.S. Pain Foundation, International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP), International Pain Foundation and many more.
- Review our webinar: CompleteRx hosted a webinar on new strategies to help pharmacists deal with the opioid crisis in their community.