Empower people with chronic pain to improve their quality of life and take a more active role in their treatment.

Pain Connection was founded in 1999 by Gwenn Herman who developed chronic pain after being in a car accident. A social worker by training, Gwenn soon realized that there were no community resources in Montgomery County providing information and psychosocial support to people with chronic pain and their families. In response, Gwenn began a support group that met monthly at the Davis Library in Bethesda. Following publication of articles in local newspapers about Gwenn and the support group, more people became aware of the vast problem of chronic pain and the demand for information and services grew.

Hence, Pain Connection was formed and additional free support groups led by mental health professionals were organized. The support groups provide a forum to discuss the impact of chronic pain on people’s lives, teach coping mechanisms for dealing with pain, and educate about new treatments, resources, medical assistance programs and clinical trials. For the past eight years, Pain Connection has run a well-attended Speakers Series on chronic pain management that features a wide range of traditional and alternative health providers. Additionally, Pain Connection runs special classes including gentle movement, biofeedback, and Mindfulness meditation.

Pain Connection also conducts professional training to build the skills of health professionals in working with chronic pain patients. In addition, Pain Connection hosted successful Pain Awareness Month symposiums in 2010, 2011 and 2012 at their new offices in the Nonprofit Village in Rockville. A major accomplishment in 2009 was the development of the publication Making the Invisible Visible: Chronic Pain Manual for Health Providers, a groundbreaking resource that pulls together Pain Connection’s years of experience in addressing the devastating impacts of chronic pain on individuals and families.

The September 2011 Pain Awareness Symposium featured Senator Jamie Raskin; proclamations were presented by Chuck Short, County Executive’s office and Peter Fosselman, Governor’s office. Three prominent experts in the field of chronic pain delivered presentations on the latest pain management research, on depression and developing treatments.

In 2011, two new breakthrough programs were developed: Pain Connection Live and Filling the Gaps in Pain Care. Pain Connection Live consists of conference calls that are held twice a month and is a support group by telephone that allows Pain Connection to reach people unable to leave their homes. Filling the Gaps in Pain Care is an 8-week intensive program designed for people with pain and their families to improve their ability to manage chronic pain more effectively in collaboration with their health care providers, resulting in an increased sense of well-being and improved quality of life.

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