man drawing big unhappy face on glass Chronic pain also has enormous economic impacts, even before accounting for added mental health challenges. (Photo: Shutterstock)

Chronic pain is a hidden illness—raging internally for those who suffer while veiled externally to meet societal norms and avoid stigma. In the United States, approximately 20 million people have long-term chronic pain so persistent that it interferes in daily life. I have personally experienced the compounding impact of chronic pain and mental health and despite the well-known connection between the two, we continue to have a health care system ill-equipped to support patients.

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