How did President John F. Kennedy advance research on chronic pain?

All of our presidents have a story to tell, and this snapshot tells how one impacted recognition of chronic pain.

We say “thank you” to President John F. Kennedy on this Presidents Day for inspiring us to keep trying when it seems impossible.  Kennedy was our 35th president and the youngest ever elected.  Presidents Day is an American holiday observed on the third Monday in February annually to commemorate all U.S. presidents though it originally celebrated George Washington’s birthday during his presidency. 

According to Men’s Health, the image Kennedy conveyed was of a “young, vigorous man.” However, the lively man portrayed to the public had another part of his life that wasn’t as visible. J.F.K. suffered from a series of medical issues, the worst being his chronic lower back pain.

One of the doctors who had a hand in helping this president was Janet Graeme Travell.

An American physician and a medical researcher, Dr. Travell studied and practiced in many different places including Wellesley College, Cornell University Medical College, New York Hospital, Seaview Hospital, and Beth Israel Hospital. Travell was a leading pioneer in the study of referred pain and the discovery of trigger points in musculoskeletal pain. Her many different techniques for the treatment of myofascial pain led to her becoming the first female physician to Senator John F. Kennedy. When Kennedy was elected for president, she was then called to be his personal doctor.

While at the White House, she became an Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine at George Washington University. After leaving the White House, she continued to teach, attend conferences, and write articles. Travells’ research and over 100 scientific articles contributed to furthering the concept of  myofascial pain syndrome (MSP) secondary to trigger points and the recognition of symptoms like muscle pain, spasms, and tenderness.

The cause of MSP is unknown but is a chronic condition that affects the fascia (connective tissue that covers the muscles).  Pain can be referred to the soft tissues, and inflammation is often present.

Trigger points (TPs) or “knots” in the muscle are sensitive spots in soft tissue which can lead to the chronic condition of MSP. Optimal treatment of MPS is a multi-faceted approach including TP injections, stretching of fascia, stress reduction, physical therapy, sleep improvement, and medications.  MSP is generally localized muscle pain affecting one side of the body or one side more than the other.  The symptoms often mimic fibromyalgia, where muscle and soft tissue pain is diffuse and symmetric, involving both sides of the body.

Travell’s work advanced research for fibromyalgia and chronic pain, but it has it should have. We want to change that. Together Walks is a way to support this research. The money raised will go to the further research for fibromyalgia and chronic pain. We hope you will take the opportunity to make a difference.

2018 Pennsylvania Walk

DATE:  Saturday, May 12, 2018
TIME: 8:30 AM Registration Begins; 10:30 AM Opening Ceremonies
LOCATION:  Hickory Creek Forest Preserve
ADDRESS:    7125 Scenic View Drive, Macungie, PA 18062

Ain’t no shame in chronic pain is proud to host the Pennsylvania Together Walk in 2018. We all have a disease yet none of us have it the same way. Whether it is multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, sjogren’s, small fiber neuropathy, or something else we all suffer. Many of us have similar symptoms yet different diagnosis. Many of us share similar treatments and medications. Help us bring awareness to us and help us to be the voice in the issues we are facing and for the treatments of the future.

The Olympic Spirit Lives in Us!

The Olympics is a time of celebration and triumph that we can all enjoy and relate to.  Athletes dedicated to their sport who have overcome challenges and setbacks lift our spirits.  They kept trying and learned from their mistakes.  A big hurrah and thank you to them for sharing their joy!

Feeling triumphant on achieving benchmarks in our own personal journeys feels like winning a competition against the hard stuff, the challenges that seemed insurmountable.  Just as Olympic athletes achieve their sporting goals, our goals can be achieved with strategic planning.  More is required of us to feel strong and well.  Figuring out how to have good (and great) days that stretch into weeks and months pays off.

The  Stanford Self-Management program for chronic disease teaches how to break goals down into doable action items, and then outcomes are reported to a partner.  Each goal is assessed for anticipated obstacles and  solutions are determined.  Anticipating and strategically planning for obstacles significantly improves the likelihood of success.

Criteria in setting S.M.A.R.T. goals guides objectives and outcomes.  S usually means specific; M – measurable; A – attainable; R – relevant; and T – timely.

Combining these two methods of setting health objectives (goals) can be powerful.  Successful little steps build a foundation for understanding what you’re presently capable of and what’s realistic for next goals.

Recognize and celebrate achievements.  For resilience, include resting periods (or plateaus) and success milestones in goal setting and outcome planning.

We’re here to cheer you on and celebrate your successes.  Please consider setting a goal to join a Together Walk and bringing a friend.  See you at the Together Walks!

Beyond the Together Walks

Do you have a Together Walk Scheduled near you? If so, we are excited for you to be a part of it. If not, join us on a virtual walk!

The National Fibromyalgia & Chronic Pain Association is delighted to host a Virtual Together Walk just for you! Please invite your family, friends, colleagues, elected officials, and healthcare providers to a healthy, fun event to raise awareness and research funding for fibromyalgia.

We’ve organized a virtual Together Walk so you can form fundraising and friendraising teams online, even while you are at home. Everyone can participate regardless of health status or ability to travel to specific locations. You can participate in the Together Walks by donating, fundraising, or walking locally. The changes that you make for people impacted by life-altering, chronic pain diseases is amazing and appreciated.

There are 5 main steps to become a part of these virtual walks.

First, go online to and join a Virtual Together Walk and start up a team fundraising goal. If you can’t get a team together, you can participate on your own.

Second, order the T-shirt online. If you are able to go out and organize the event, the second step would be to pick a location and date to host your local walk.

Third, SHARE! We want to inform the world on FB and Chronic Pain. Sharing can help with this goal. Just make sure to use the hashtags #TogetherWalks and #IWalkForFibro.

So wherever you are, you can be a part of the fun. You can be a part of educating people all over the world. You can make a difference!

2018 Together Walks to combat public health crisis of chronic pain


February 7, 2018

LOGAN, Utah – The National Fibromyalgia & Chronic Pain Association, a global community supporting individuals living with fibromyalgia and other chronic pain diseases, will join for 1K/5K Together Walks in cities across the nation in honor of Fibromyalgia Awareness Day on May 12.

Walks are scheduled in California, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Mississippi, Missouri, virtually, and in satellite cities.  Planned activities include a 1K/5K walk, educational program, health expo, raffle and musical entertainment. Individuals can also raise funds and awareness in their local community by creating a virtual Together Walk team.

“One in three U.S. adults, 50 percent of all veterans and 80 percent of veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan suffer with chronic pain,” said Jan Chambers, NFCPA president and founder. “Life-altering, chronic pain is real, and effective pain relief is needed now. We cannot ignore the public health crisis of chronic pain any longer.”

Reports by the U.S. Institute of Medicine and the Department of Defense show that more than 100 million American men, women and children are impacted by chronic pain and that chronic pain costs the nation $635 billion annually in health care costs and lost productivity.

Fibromyalgia – one of many invisible, chronic pain diseases –  affects 10  million Americans according to Pub Med. The illness involves long-term body-wide pain, fatigue, sleep disturbances, memory problems and impaired functionality.

“Untreated pain such as fibromyalgia has a devastating impact on individuals, families, communities and our nation. The opioid crisis reflects the lack of available treatment options,” Chambers said. “Pilot research funding on fibromyalgia symptoms and impact raised by patients and their communities is critical. Join Together Walks where people in pain have a voice.”

Together Walks are open to the public, individuals living with chronic pain, and their friends, family and caregivers. The walks unite communities to advocate for better access to care, to encourage and fund research into integrative treatments and to increase fibromyalgia awareness, education, resources and support.

Through joining or donating to Together Walks, people can:

  • Network and meet new friends in their community;
  • Educate about the debilitating, life-altering, financial and personal impact of FM;
  • End stigmatization of people suffering with chronic pain diseases;
  • Raise pilot research funding for new studies to discover a cure for FM; and
  • Learn about local resources for pain and symptom relief to improve quality of life.

Together Walks will be held the following dates in the following cities:

To donate to, or register for a Together Walk, visit For more information, visit

All Together Walk and NFCPA leaders are volunteers. To volunteer or host a Together Walk virtually or in your city, please contact the NFCPA at


About the National Fibromyalgia & Chronic Pain Association (NFCPA)
25 Federal Avenue, Logan, UT  84321; (1) 801-200-3627; (F) 435-753-3556

NFCPA, a not-for-profit organization, supports individuals living with fibromyalgia and other chronic pain illnesses by raising awareness through community outreach, education, advocacy and networking. Visit:,,


Parker Jenks, Together Walks Director; (1) 801-200-3627



Together Walks…What are they all about?

First and foremost, welcome to the Together Walks website! I’m guessing since you got this far, you have been introduced to Together Walks. Here is a little more insight to give you a better idea of what we are here for.

Together Walks are developed in partnership with local organizers and sponsored by the NFCPA. This is the National Fibromyalgia & Chronic Pain Association. Our main purpose is to unite patients, policy makers, and healthcare, medical and scientific communities to transform lives through visionary support, advocacy, research and education of fibromyalgia and chronic pain illnesses.

Together Walks make this goal a little more visible with ACTION.

Together walks are events hosted around the world to increase FM awareness, education, resources, and support for research in the general public, medical communities, legislators, and people affected by FM. Together Walks give us a unique opportunity to put our information and knowledge into action. They bring our community together to support our loved ones with FM or Chronic Pain.

Every person involved in these Together Walks can have a positive influence on their community. It makes it possible to share with people worldwide just how important it is to be aware of FM and Chronic Pain.

Below are a few of the things that YOU can do to make a difference by being a part of Together Walks.

  • Raise FM awareness by educating local communities and political leaders about this condition and its impact
  • Alleviate stigmatization of people suffering with FM and chronic pain diseases
  • Create more pilot research funding, especially in the field of effective integrative treatments and new exploration in areas such as small fiber neuropathy, cervical cord compression, and myofascial release which promises new treatments
  • Increase support by providing local, accessible resources and information for daily living to patients
  • Promote awareness of the ramifications, including financial consequences, of chronic pain to the public, legislators, medical community and government agencies

We want you to remember that YOU can make a difference! Invite your friends, family, and neighbors to join us in this wonderful event.