Chronic pain ireland celebrates 30 years

by Alex Greaney
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Martina Phelan CPI Chairperson

Chronic Pain Ireland (CPI), an organisation dedicated to supporting people living with chronic pain and their families, is to mark the 30th anniversary of its foundation by hosting a series of events for Pain Awareness Month. 

The World Health Assembly (WHA) – a subsection of the World Health Organization (WHO) – has declared September Pain Awareness Month. The event is designed to bring patients and advocacy groups from around the world together to highlight the condition of chronic pain. 

CPI, in conjunction with the HSE, is supporting its members throughout Pain Awareness Month via its Living Well with Chronic Pain self-management programmes. These seven-week online programmes are available for free and are designed to support those living with chronic pain conditions to self-manage by providing them with tools, techniques, and coping strategies. 

CPI and the HSE are also working together to offer specific programmes for those aged 18-30. Top university researchers who engage with CPI through its patient and public involvement (PPI) partnerships will also be on hand to provide insights on their studies into chronic pain. 

Also, part of CPI’s 30-year milestone celebrations is the launch of the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower initiative to highlight the plight of those living with chronic pain and non-visible disabilities. Sunflower lanyards are being gifted to all CPI members from today and can be worn in public to discreetly indicate to others that the wearer has a hidden disability and may require additional support. 

Chronic pain is classified as pain that persists beyond the time of healing, typically around three months. While many people suffer chronic pain due to injury or illness, others can experience pain in the absence of any obvious cause. 

According to figures released by Irish Pain Society, Ireland has just 27 dedicated pain consultants operating across the public system, meaning that 41% of patients are currently waiting more than 12 months for their first appointment with a chronic pain specialist, while 18% are waiting the same length of time for their first treatment. 

The Irish Pain Society’s figures estimate that chronic pain costs the Irish economy around €4.7billion per year, more than 2.5% of GDP. Among those with chronic pain, 29% cannot work because of their condition, while 42% said they think others doubt the existence of their pain. Some 21% said their pain was so intense that they wanted to die. 

Chair of Chronic Pain Ireland, Martina Phelan, says: “Everyone who suffers from chronic pain is on their own unique journey and it can be shaped by injury, experiences, stigma, suppressed emotions and past traumatic events. Pain Awareness Month provides a perfect opportunity to highlight the life-changing effects of chronic pain and the action that people can take to manage it. We support our members to learn tools and techniques that can help them manage. 

“The theme of this year’s Pain Awareness Month is ‘Inspiring Pain Freedom’, which is about finding something that can help people along the path to living without pain. That’s the core of CPI’s mission.”

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