On Hearing Patient Stories & Building Community

Jan 08, 2017

The Institute for Chronic Pain is an educational and public policy think tank that produces academic quality information on chronic pain. We aim to provide such information in a manner that’s empirically accurate, yet also approachable to patients, their families, non-specialist healthcare providers, third party payers, and public policy analysts. We do so because the field of chronic pain management needs to change.

The widespread use of opioid medications for chronic pain in the last two decades have led to epidemic rates of opioid addiction and accidental overdoses (Centers for Disease Control, 2016; National Institute of Drug Abuse, 2016). In the same decades, the rates of spine surgery and interventional procedures have grown exponentially and yet the rate of disability related to chronic pain has similarly risen (Deyo, et al., 2009). Among healthcare providers, patients, and their families, there’s growing recognition that as a field we need to do better.

Dr. Melissa Cady agrees and she’s had the insight that we begin to do better by listening to those who matter most: people who live everyday with chronic pain. We need to hear the stories of how people live with chronic pain – the stories of those who suffer, to be sure, but also the stories of those who have come to flourish even with persistent pain. Both narratives are important. One of these narratives fosters compassion. The other fosters hope.

Dr. Cady provides the Institute with a new content page on the importance of sharing stories from real people who make real changes in their lives in order to thrive despite continuing to live with pain.

Dr. Melissa Cady is an osteopathic physician with training and dual board certification in anesthesiology and pain medicine. She runs a website that carries stories of real people with chronic pain who have successfully come to self-manage their pain. They each tell their story of how they’ve overcome suffering and have learned to thrive in life despite persistent pain.

The website is Pain Out Loud and I encourage everyone to visit it and listen to the stories of those who have successfully come to self-manage chronic pain. It shows that living a full life is possible once one learns how. It shows that you can learn to do it too. It shows that there is hope.

Please consider sharing your story of how you overcame adversity and learned to successfully self-manage pain. We can all learn from each other. In so doing, we foster hope and empowerment. We build community.

If you think that hearing from the people who have persistent pain is important, please link to Pain Out Loud on your site or post a link to it through your social media.


Deyo, R. A., Mirza, S. K. Tuner, J. A., & Martin, B. I. (2009). Overtreating chronic back pain: Time to back off? Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine, 22(1), 62-58.

Centers for Disease Control (CDC). (2016). https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/epidemic/

National Institute of Drug Abuse. (2016). https://www.drugabuse.gov/about-nida/legislative-activities/testimony-to-congress/2016/americas-addiction-to-opioids-heroin-prescription-drug-abuse

Author: Murray J. McAllister

Date of last modification: 1-8-2017

About the author: Dr. McAllister is the editor at the Institute for Chronic Pain (ICP). The ICP is an educational and public policy think tank. Our mission is to lead the field in making pain management more empirically supported. Additionally, the ICP provides scientifically accurate information on chronic pain that is approachable to patients and their families. Dr. McAllister is also the clinical director of pain services for Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute (CKRI), part of Allina Health, in Minneapolis, MN. Among other services, CKRI provides chronic pain rehabilitation services on a residential and outpatient basis. 


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