The American Chronic Pain Association

What is the American Chronic Pain Association?

The following information is from the American Chronic Pain Association’s website. Since 1980, the ACPA has offered peer support and education in pain management skills to people with pain, family and friends, and healthcare professionals. The information and tools on their site can help you to better understand your pain and work more effectively with your healthcare team toward a higher quality of life.

What Does the ACPA do?

The American Chronic Pain Association has been helping people live fuller lives in spite of their pain for 34 years.  Their goal is to provide you with the tools you need, in addition to what your healthcare provider offers, so that you can improve your skills in the self-management of your chronic pain.  They focus on helping you become an active partner on your health care team.

The Mission of the ACPA is Patient Oriented

The mission of the ACPA is to facilitate peer support and education for you if you suffer with chronic pain, as well as your families so that you may live more fully in spite of your pain. In addition, they strive to raise awareness among the healthcare community, policy makers, and the public at large about issues of living with chronic pain.

Who Started the ACPA, and How Did it Become So Successful?


from, page by P. Pandey

The American Chronic Pain Association was founded in 1980 by Penney Cowan in her home in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  After many years of living with chronic pain, Penney had taken part in the pain management program at the Cleveland Clinic and was eager to maintain the skills she had learned there when she returned to her daily life. Penney placed a notice in her church bulletin and soon found others whose lives were compromised by ongoing pain.  They began meeting as the first ACPA support group.  This one small group quickly became many.  Unable to be personally involved with every group, Penney developed the first of the ACPA’s manuals and other materials so that others could learn and maintain the skills that had been so important to maintaining her wellness.

Support Groups are the Cornerstone of the ACPA

Today several hundred ACPA support groups meet across the US and in Canada, Great Britain, and many other countries.  The ACPA’s unique materials are a primary resource for individuals seeking to improve the quality of their lives and for the professionals who help them. The website is

Multiple Resources on the ACPA Website

The well-organized website has multiple resources which are simple to navigate. Diseases can be researched (‘Conditions A to Z), information on medications and treatments is provided, as well as patient tools to research the particular type of pain you are experiencing. Pain awareness is fostered through links such as Partners for Understanding Pain which represents a comprehensive network of resources and knowledge about issues in pain management. They are a loose consortium of organizations with an interest in the personal, economic, and social impact of pain on our society. Members include health-condition-specific groups as well as those with broader mandates that touch the lives of people with chronic, acute, and cancer pain.

About Doug Roberts MD

Board certified practicing rheumatologist and founder of
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