Among the observances for September, Pain Awareness Month may be one of the farthest reaching. According to the National Institutes of Health, 100 million adults in the US live with chronic pain (PDF). About half of those adults live with pain daily, often moderate to severe. Chronic pain can be the result of an injury, such as spinal cord injury (SCI) or burn injury; part of inflammatory conditions such as arthritis; or a symptom of a condition such as migraine or multiple sclerosis. If it is severe enough, chronic pain can interfere with major life activities like getting out into the community, working, or completing household and personal care activities.
People who live with chronic pain may focus on pain management with their primary care provider, a pain management physician, or another specialist who is familiar with their disability. Some care providers may not be fully trained in pain and pain management. For example, these providers may not know the risks of certain medications like opioids, they may be unfamiliar or uncomfortable discussing complementary and alternative options to pain management, or they may not understand their patient’s experience of living with chronic pain.
We gathered some tools from the NIDILRR community and elsewhere to help people living with chronic pain and their care teams talk about pain and work together to build the right pain management plan to meet their needs.
- From the Model Systems Knowledge Translation Center (MSKTC)
- Managing pain after SCI – a hot topic collection with factsheets, research reviews, and discussion videos.
- Chronic pain and traumatic brain injury (TBI) – factsheet series and quick research review.
- Headaches and TBI – factsheet and infocomic, plus quick research reviews.
- Managing pain after burn injury – factsheet, podcast episode, and a quick research review.
- What I Want My Doctor to Know About How Arthritis and Chronic Pain Affect My Everyday Life (PDF) – a research brief based on interviews with people living with chronic arthritis pain.
- Take Charge of Burn Pain – an interactive program designed to work with other treatments to manage pain.
- Pain and SCI (PDF) – statistics on daily pain prevalence among more than 4,600 people with SCI in the US.
- TBI Infocomic: TBI and Chronic Pain – a four-part infocomic series that tackles life with chronic pain, co-occurring injury and pain, managing spasticity, and pain and anxiety
A Safer Approach to Opioids
- Partnering for Better Chronic Pain Management and Safer Opioid Use – this knowledge hub has actionable information for people with disabilities and their providers to talk about pain management, using opioids, developing and adjusting pain management plans, engaging support systems, and having difficult conversations about opioid use.
- Opioid Use and TBI – issue briefs and publications from the INROADS project that discuss how people with TBI may use opioids to manage chronic pain, risks for misuse and opioid use disorder, and connecting people to support.
- Outpatient Opioid Management for Adult Burn Survivors – a factsheet for providers to support their patients with burn injuries.
- Risks of Pain Medication Misuse After SCI (PDF) – a research brief using data from more than 2,500 people with SCI on their pain medication use, identifying who may be at risk for misuse.
Complementary and Integrative Health Options
- The Spaulding New England SCI Center hosted researcher Jennifer Coker, MPH, discussing her research in complementary and integrative healthcare approaches for people with SCI.
- This research was also the focus of a recent Research In Focus summary Many People with SCI May Turn to Complementary and Integrative Healthcare to Manage Their Health and Wellness, but May Need More Information About These Options
- The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health at the National Institutes of Health supports and conducts research in alternative approaches to pain management such as mindfulness, meditation, yoga, and more. They provide reliable information for both consumers and providers.
The NARIC Knowledgebase lists many organizations, publishers, and web resources supporting people living with chronic pain and their providers.
Explore the Research
The NARIC collection includes thousands of articles, books, and reports on pain, chronic pain, and pain management, both from the NIDILRR grantees and from the wider disability and rehabilitation research community. Here are a few links for recent searches we’ve conducted:
- From the grantees
- Pain-related research publications (2016-2021)
- From the full collection
More research and resources are available from the NARIC collection. Contact our information specialists if we can assist you in searching our databases, locating resources online, or connecting with support resources in your community.