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Chronic Pain – Stories Of Struggle And Hope: Part 10 - Support Systems

BOSTON (CBS) – An accident changed Cindy Steinberg's life in ways she couldn't have imagined.

Excruciating, unrelenting back pain forced her to give up her career - but it didn't steal her spirit.

"I was thinking 'My God, I can't be the only one living like this,'" Cindy recalls. "And so I just hung a sign at the local library saying if you have pain I'm starting a group. If you'd like to come, show up."

And they did.

For 15 years, hundreds of people have been taking part in Steinberg's support group which is held at the Arlington Library every month.

Related: Boston Chapter of the American Chronic Pain Association

Working with lawmakers on Beacon Hill, she's been able to get legislation passed.

"To require three hours of pain management and opioid prescribing training every two years for physicians in Massachusetts. Only a handful of states require any kind of pain management training," Steinberg explains.

Steinberg says another tool that will help shine the light on the treatment issue is a comprehensive report on pain that's due out from the Department of Health and Human Services early next year.

Read-Listen: Chronic Pain – Stories Of Struggle And Hope: The Series

"Because that's our nation's first really strategic plan for pain. How to improve pain, how to improve pain care in many different areas," Steinberg said.

Steinberg says it's critical that people shed their shame and isolation, and instead advocate for the care they deserve.

And Dr. Daniel Carr of Tufts agrees. If you have chronic pain, ask for help. And know that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

"There are many treatments, the treatments are not limited to drugs, they involve non-drug therapies," Carr said. "But patients with pain have to remember that they're not alone and there's a huge amount of infrastructure there to support them."

Learn more about managing pain on the Massachusetts Pain Initiative website, U.S. Pain Foundation online or through the Invisible Project.

Listen: Part 10 - Support Systems – Stories Of Struggle And Hope

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