Lynne Matallana knows all about pain. She has for as long as she can remember. Like many of the estimated 100 million Americans who live in chronic pain.
Written by Chuck Carroll
Lynne figured it was normal, and she just went about her life doing the best she could. Doctors, she said, would just dismiss her pain, saying there was nothing wrong with her. She looked high and low, and couldn’t find anyone to help.
But after she developed fibromyalgia in the 1990s, she couldn’t just push on through, and it laid her low. The little-understood disease brought on long-term widespread pain, fatigue, cognitive “fog” and other maladies. She finally had to have surgery. After she recovered, co-founded the nonprofit National Fibromyalgia Association and raised ultimately raised $20 million to help support the estimated 10 million Americans (mostly women) who have the condition.
About six years ago, Matallana realized that the technology was out there to greatly expand sufferers’ ability fight fibromyalgia and many other chronic pain diseases. That’s when she began to work on her latest venture: the Community Pain Center. It’s a business that uses all sorts of web technologies to get out information about living with pain, treatment options and — crucially — a place where the pain-suffering community can share their experiences and swap ideas. Matallana says the information on the site is carefully vetted by top health care professionals to make sure users know its medical status — no quacks allowed.
Matallana says she’s excited about the potential to reach and help millions because she knows what her customers are going through. “It has really been a very personal journey,” she said by phone from Tustin, California, where she lives. I have all my life dealt with chronic pain and been told things were ‘just growing pains, and you should be stronger.’ ”
People should think of the Community Pain Center as a vast virtual mall through which they stroll to pick up everything they need, instead having to go a hundred different places, as has been the case until now.
“It’s amazing what people can do,” she said, “when people get together with passion and creativity and create a voice.”
Matallana says the Community Pain Center can play an important part in implementing the National Pain Strategy by helping to moderate rising medical care costs and letting people remain active and working, and staying off disability. According to the government’s Institute of Medicine, chronic pain costs Americans at least $560 billion a year.