About Us

When I was 15 years old, I was hit by a car while riding my bike. It was an accident I wasn’t expected to survive. I sustained major injuries, requiring multiple surgeries and rehabilitation. It was a miracle that I could walk and talk normally again. By 18, though, I started developing chronic neck and back pain, which I managed with physical therapy, exercise, and chiropractic care.


Then, I developed a little-known gynecologic pain condition, vulvodynia, which proved difficult to diagnose and even harder to treat. Vulvodynia is chronic pain or discomfort in the vulva (the area surrounding the vaginal opening) without an identifiable cause, like an infection. Women may be unable to sit for long periods and can experience pain with tampon insertion and sexual intercourse. As you might imagine, it’s a condition with a great deal of stigma, leaving women feeling isolated and ashamed.

My pain made it impossible to wear pants, sit, or exercise. At its worst, the pain was so unbearable that I couldn’t concentrate. One day, after I turned in an incomplete college chemistry final exam because of the pain, my doctor diagnosed me with vulvodynia. She knew no one who treated it, which shocked me. It seemed inconceivable that a person could be in so much pain for which there was no treatment. 

My struggle with pain is hardly uncommon. Chronic pain is the most prevalent, costly, and disabling health condition nationwide. It’s defined as pain lasting at least several months, and it affects 100 million Americans. The estimated annual costs of pain treatment and lost productivity are around $600 billion, according to the National Academy of Medicine.

There hasn’t been nearly enough research comparing which approaches to pain management might work best for people like me and others with similarly challenging conditions. Given pain’s far-reaching effects, more research like that is vital.

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