The Fernandina Beach Rotary Club recently welcomed Susan Pendergrass as a guest speaker. Pendergrass is a family nurse practitioner who is board certified in pain assessment and management and has worked for many years with patients suffering from chronic pain. She explained that while acute pain usually occurs with injury or short-term illness and is often curable, chronic pain is typically associated with ongoing diseases such as diabetes, cancer or arthritis and can be incurable. Often, the best that patients can hope for is to manage chronic pain. Pendergrass said chronic pain can affect every aspect of a person’s life—diminishing appetite, causing sleeplessness and having a negative impact on functionality and quality of life. She added that chronic pain sufferers often experience severe depression because the pain is not only physical, but also psychological as well as spiritual. She emphasized that an important key to managing pain is for the patient to take control of their pain management regimen and act as their own advocate to ensure that their health care providers are aware of all prescribed medications and treatments. She noted that while traditional forms of pain management such as medication and physical therapy are still the standard options, a holistic approach including acupuncture and biofeedback also offers excellent results. In closing, Pendergrass said that chronic pain management is a complex issue, but the most important component is to stay ahead of the pain rather than to try and play catch up.