(WZAW) -- Since her fall on the set of "The Good Wife," actress Kristin Chenoweth has been living with chronic pain.
Actress Kristin Chenoweth talks about chronic pain with Holly Chilsen (WZAW photo)
Chenoweth joined NewsChannel 7 at 4 on Wednesday to discuss her experience with Holly Chilsen via satellite.
"The neck is what's really been my Achilles heal. As an actress and a dancer and singer, it's been hard. But also what's been great is to find the right doctor, find out great treatments that work for me. I do traction and different ointments help me, as well as medication," Chenoweth said. "It's been life-changing. It has been something that I am very glad that I have an opportunity to talk about now, because I pushed it down. I didn't want to talk about it. I didn't want to seem weak."
Dr. Mandy Francis joined Chenoweth. She said chronic pain does not have a universal definition as everyone who experiences it does so differently.
"Chronic pain is anything that's lasted more than six months. It's defined very differently by each unique patient. Some patients define it as numb, tingling, burning, sharp-shooting, bee stings, ant-crawling," Dr. Francis. "It can be neck pain, back pain, lasting all day, and sometimes intermittent."
What is known is that chronic pain puts a strain on the daily life of people who live with the disease - from their relationships to the ability to keep their jobs, to feeling isolated and frustrated.
The "This Is Pain" campaign is meant to improve the lives of people living with chronic pain through two steps. First by confronting and dispelling the stigma around the disease state and its treatment options in order to create widespread awareness and empathy for those living with chronic pain. Secondly, by combating the systemic challenges that chronic pain patients face in getting proper treatment, access to appropriate treatment options, and unfair treatment in the workplace.
"We want to give each patient the opportunity to speak out, to express what they're feeling and not feel like they can't talk about it," said Dr. Francis. "Patients are afraid to speak up. The stigma is so strong out there, they'd rather just deal with it, and we don't want that. We want to give them a platform to say, hey we hear you and we want to help you."
With campaigns it, individuals living with chronic pain can be seen and heard among their peer groups, in the workplace, by their healthcare professionals and society to shed light on the realities of living with the disease, driving a force for positive change.
"There are people out there that truly care.There's friends, family, co-workers.. they may just not understand what you're going through, and truthfully there are really great providers out there that want to help you," Dr. Francis added. "We just want you to advocate for yourself."
She encourages anyone living with chronic pain to visit www.thisispain.com and hear other people's stories and share your story as well.
"Sometimes that's healing in itself," Dr. Francis said.
Chenoweth's biggest message is to remember that you're not alone.
"Don't be ashamed of it, and don't be afraid to talk about it. Rely on the people who love you to understand that just because you can't see it, doesn't mean it's not there," Chenoweth said.