Pain Awareness Month - Chronic Pain Ireland marks 30th anniversary with events to provide advice and respite to people suffering with chronic pain

September 1st, 2022

Press Release 01-09-22


Chronic Pain Ireland marks 30th anniversary with events to provide advice and respite to people suffering with chronic pain

  • Anniversary celebrations coincide with Pain Awareness Month in September

  • Virtual events designed to teach chronic pain sufferers the tools, techniques and coping strategies necessary for maintaining quality of life

  • CPI launches chronic pain Sunflower lanyards so members can discreetly identify themselves as having a non-visible disability.

Chronic Pain Ireland (CPI), an organisation dedicated to supporting people living with chronic pain and their families, is to mark the 30th anniversary of its foundation by hosting a series of events for Pain Awareness Month, which starts today (September 1st).

The World Health Assembly (WHA) – a subsection of the World Health Organization (WHO) – has declared September Pain Awareness Month. ​​The  event is designed to bring patients and advocacy groups from around the world together to highlight the condition of chronic pain.

CPI, in conjunction with the HSE, is supporting its members throughout Pain Awareness Month via its Living Well with Chronic Pain self-management programmes. These seven-week online programmes are available for free and are designed to support those living with chronic pain conditions to self-manage by providing them with tools, techniques and coping strategies. In addition, there will be a specific programme for those aged 18-30.

Top university researchers who engage with CPI through its patient and public involvement (PPI) partnerships will also be on hand to provide insights on their studies into chronic pain.

Also part of CPI’s 30-year milestone celebrations is the launch of the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower initiative to highlight the plight of those living with chronic pain and non-visible disabilities. Sunflower lanyards are being gifted to all CPI members from today and can be worn in public to discreetly indicate to others that the wearer has a hidden disability and may require additional support.

Chronic pain is classified as pain that persists beyond the time of healing, typically around three months. While many people suffer chronic pain due to injury or illness, others can experience pain in the absence of any obvious cause. 

According to figures released by Irish Pain Society, Ireland has just 27 dedicated pain consultants operating across the public system, meaning that 41% of patients are currently waiting more than 12 months for their first appointment with a chronic pain specialist, while 18% are waiting the same length of time for their first treatment. 

The Irish Pain Society’s figures estimate that chronic pain costs the Irish economy around €4.7billion per year, more than 2.5% of GDP. Among those with chronic pain, 29% cannot work because of their condition, while 42% said they think others doubt the existence of their pain. Some 21% said their pain was so intense that they wanted to die. 

Chair of Chronic Pain Ireland, Martina Phelan, says: “Everyone who suffers from chronic pain is on their own unique journey and it can be shaped by injury, experiences, stigma, suppressed emotions and past traumatic events. Pain Awareness Month provides a perfect opportunity to highlight the life-changing effects of chronic pain and the action that people can take to manage it. We support our members to learn tools and techniques that can help them manage.

“This theme of this year’s Pain Awareness Month is ‘Inspiring Pain Freedom’, which is about finding something that can help people along the path to living without pain. That’s the core of CPI’s mission.

“We’re also delighted to be launching our Hidden Disabilities Sunflower initiative to create greater awareness of chronic pain. With the sunflower lanyards, we want to make chronic pain visible and encourage conversation, empathy and understanding of the challenges faced by those living with a non-visible disability.”

Hidden Disabilities Sunflower Regional Director for Ireland, Tristan Casson-Rennie, said: “We are delighted that CPI has joined the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower Network. Living with chronic pain is immensely difficult, and by choosing to wear the sunflower, it lets people know that the wearer has an invisible disability and may need more time, kindness and understanding. Working together with a joint aim to increase awareness of non-visible disabilities helps us reach a wider audience at the same time as supporting members.”



Chronic Pain Ireland (CPI) is the national charity providing information, education and support services to people living with Chronic Pain, their families, friends, caregivers and other interested parties. CPI advocates on their behalf and works closely with all stakeholders while providing a range of supports, including self-management workshops, telephone support line, monthly e-newsletter, patient and public involvement (PPI) research partnerships, member meetings and public awareness events.  See

CPI receives core funding via the Scheme to Support National Organisations, which is funded by the Government of Ireland through the Department of Rural and Community Development. CPI gratefully acknowledges SSNO funding and the ongoing support of Pobal and the Department of Rural and Community Development under the Programme and Scheme to Support National Organisations (SSNO) 2022-2025. 



Wearing the Sunflower lanyard enables individuals to discreetly indicate that they have a non-visible disability and may need additional assistance, kindness, or simply a little more time. Since the Sunflower was established in the UK in 2016, it has been adopted globally by organisations to support their colleagues and customers. The Sunflower is recognised across a broad range of sectors - ranging from retail, financial services, transport including over 140 airports, travel and tourism, education as well as healthcare, emergency service and entertainment. The Sunflower is available globally and has been launched locally in Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, the UK and the USA. The Hidden Disabilities Sunflower is part of Hidden Disabilities Sunflower Scheme Limited, a private company based in the UK.


Source of statistics: Irish Pain Society presentation at European Pain Federation Congress (EFIC) 2022. The Irish Pain Society, Chapter of the International Association for the Study of Pain, is a non-profit organisation comprised of multidisciplinary health care professionals and scientists, dedicated to research, and educational and clinical aspects of pain management.