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Feeling cut-off from everything and everyone because of pain? Get online and get involved!


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Taking pain day by day is one of the principles of CPA. Rather than swap pain treatment strategies, members bolster each other emotionally and mentally. Chronic pain management typically involves physical therapy, medications, and mental health interventions like cognitive behavioral therapy, says Dr. If the pain persists, a health care team might next consider steroid injections or nerve blocks, she says. With their devices on mute, many members held up their hands in the shape of a heart to communicate support for whoever was speaking.

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Her health deteriorated rapidly. I recognized several faces the second time I ed a meeting; participants told me they often logged on for two or three meetings each day.

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We really do have a limitation of medications, and the drugs that we do have work for some people, but there are people none of them really work for. The physical pain is always a struggle for patients. Rachel credits this to Chronic Pain Anonymous CPAa fellowship modeled after Alcoholics Anonymous that applies the steps approach to help people cope with chronic pain and illness.

Support groups for pain

Debilitating pain made these women feel depressed and suicidal—until they ed Chronic Pain Anonymous, a step fellowship that offers hope. She was able to acknowledge the sadness, feel it, and then move on. A few people cried.

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But the mental and emotional anguish takes a heavy toll as well. Suicidal thoughts are common among chronic pain patients, Poupore-King says.

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In the video meetings I observed, between eight and 15 participants—mostly women—logged on, introducing themselves by first name only, as in AA. Many expressed their gratitude for the other faces on their computer or phone screens that day. But the group also offers virtual meetings via phone, video, and text-based forums.

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Close. When she first ed the group, she was experiencing sadness, depression, and grief because of all her illness took from her life.

People living with chronic pain are turning to this support group for help

CPA meetings are held in churches, community centers, and other public spaces in 16 states and Canada. Chronic pain forced Jan, 66, a year CPA member living with fibromyalgia in Phoenix, to give up bicycling, leave her job as an ant, and stop babysitting her grandchildren. But in recent years, medical professionals have begun to take it more seriously and even view it less as a side effect or symptom and more as a health condition of its own.

Others were sprawled on a couch or a bed at home. By Sarah Klein Updated September 16, Save Pin FB ellipsis More.

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Jan attends an in-person meeting weekly in Phoenix; Rachel usually opts for video meetings and s at least once a day. Today, the group estimates it has no more than members nationwide—a small percentage of the reported 50 million U. A year member of Alcoholics Anonymous, Rachel was not only familiar with step recovery fellowships but indebted to one.

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Share options. View image. All rights reserved. Still looking for a medical fix when she first attended a CPA meeting, she was quickly won over by the other members. Living with pain can lead to depression, anxietyand isolation, as a person starts to withdraw from the daily activities that worsen the pain, pain psychologist Heather Poupore-King, PhDclinical assistant professor in the department of anesthesiology and perioperative pain medicine at Stanford University, tells Health.

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Along the way, Rachel has also had to cultivate more compassion for herself. Several snuggled with pets while they listened in. She ran marathons and rode horses, and later she was active in her job as a microbiologist. While their health issues vary widely, members are united by their ongoing pain and illness—and their desire to recover.

5 chronic pain support groups online

Suddenly, she developed t problems. Regular meetings also help members cope with the struggle of getting doctors to take their chronic pain seriously.

Many members call in or log on from their bedrooms or from treatment facilities. Feeling less defeated thanks to CPA, Jan started her own bookkeeping business she could run out of her home as often her pain and fatigue allowed.

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People have always lived with chronic pain. Founded inCPA has grown slowly and remains under the radar.

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No one medication, surgery, or therapy can ease it for every patient, anesthesiologist Shravani Durbhakula, MDassistant professor in the division of pain medicine at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore, tells Health. Some were clearly calling in from care facilities.

The journey starts here

She was first diagnosed with Lyme diseasethen a genetic condition called Ehlers-Danlos syndromewhich makes her ts move beyond their normal range of motion and causes extreme pain. The leader opened the meeting with the serenity prayer and a moment of silence.

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Treating pain is notoriously complex.

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This is a great place to get support and connect with others who have chronic illnesses, chronic pain, and impairments.


The more than million Americans living with chronic pain and daily suffering often have limited outlets to talk about their conditions with others who can understand and offer comfort.


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Chronic pain can be a very isolating condition.