Take Charge of Your Health Today. Sickle Cell Disease and Pain Management

This month’s overview focuses on two converging topics: Sickle cell disease (SCD) and pain management — both of deep relevance to our Black community.  In this overview, Dr. Charles Jonassaint, PhD, MHS (a researcher specializing in pain management and mental health care for people who are underserved) emphasizes the importance of acknowledging how stress contributes to pain crises for people with sickle cell disease.

 We asked Carlos T. Carter, President & CEO at the Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh, why it’s important to understand the link between stress and increased pain for SCD patients.   

We learned from the overview that stress plays a considerable role in triggering pain in sickle cell disease (SCD) patients. This is insightful research and I encourage sufferers of this disease to be advocates for their own health. I am always concerned about the wellbeing of others; I want people to have the best quality of life, so it is critical to understand this link.

Stress reduces quality of life for a healthy individual and for those patients with SCD. It further exacerbates their condition and increases their pain levels to a point that could require hospitalization and/or a lengthy recovery period. Understanding this link and developing strategies to manage and reduce stress can greatly improve the quality of life for Black people battling this chronic disease.

Dr. Jonassaint has developed a mobile intervention to help reduce stress among people with SCD. Why might mobile applications like this be helpful for the Black community?

Any mobile application can be helpful if it is easy to access. This particular mobile application is helpful in building a community of support among other sufferers. I’m hopeful that it will provide tools and resources that SCD patients can have at their fingertips to navigate their own pain management in a constructive way. I’m also optimistic that SCD patients will take advantage of this to alleviate their pain and improve the quality of their life.

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