One in five. That\u2019s the number of adults in the U.S. who live with chronic pain, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Unlike acute pain\u2014which comes on suddenly and is triggered by something specific like, say, a cavity, a broken bone, a burn, or a cut\u2014chronic pain is ongoing. And it can be caused by a number of conditions, from migraines, and arthritis to multiple sclerosis and even cancer. The women below offer a glimpse into what it\u2019s like living with chronic pain day in and day out. Read their stories to realize you don't have to suffer alone. \u201cI had to make some profound changes to cope.\u201d Radiologic technologist, Macy Owen, was only 22 when she was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), an autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks healthy cells in your body, causing painful swelling wherever it strikes (usually in the joints and, often, many at once). Knowing that lifestyle plays a part in helping to manage and minimize flares, she overhauled her diet, exercise, and sleep regimens. She now gets at least seven and a half hours of shut-eye a night; focuses on activities like yoga or Pilates that she enjoys so exercise is more of a like-to-do rather than a have-to-do; and she follows a nutrient-dense plant-based diet. The incentive to stay on track is powerful for the now 27-year-old, living in Knoxville, TN. \u201cWhen I have an off day and go crazy on chocolate, the joint pain can be so intense that it wakes me from a dead sleep,\u201d says Owen. \u201cI also notice it first thing in the morning. My stiffness lasts double the amount of time it normally does.\u201d Granted, she has to work a little harder to do some of the things she used to do without hesitation\u2014whether it\u2019s opening a jar or running a mile\u2014but she reminds herself of all the things her body does allow her to do. \u201cRA may be chasing me,\u201d she says. \u201cBut it will have to catch me first.\u201d \u201cI ground myself in rituals like journaling, meditation, and reading.\u201d Shivika Sinha, 36, of San Francisco, CA, spent the early days of the pandemic bedridden, but not for reasons having to do with COVID-19. She was in the final trimester of her first pregnancy, and was experiencing intense pain\u2014the result of what she learned was pubis symphysis dysfunction. This condition occurs when the pelvic joints become stiff or move unevenly causing pain that can affect your mobility. Therefore her doctors ordered bed rest for her final weeks. To make matters worse, she was simultaneously trying to keep her just-launched business afloat. (She\u2019s the founder of Veneka, a sustainable, ethical, and cruelty-free wardrobe styling service.) Even after giving birth, Sinha\u2019s discomfort persisted. \u201cI was in chronic pain my first year postpartum. My pelvic issues caused constant sciatic pain, lower backaches, and more,\u201d she says. Nursing both a newborn baby and a business in its infant stages didn\u2019t automatically take her mind off the shooting pain that radiates through her body with even the slightest movement. So she put into practice a simple, but effective strategy. \u201cEach day, I made it my intention to be present with joy, love, and stillness,\u201d says Sinha. \u201cFrom my baby\u2019s giggles to small wins at work, I savored such moments as a reminder that daily life is magical and more beautiful than pain.\u201d \u201cI've learned to become a medical detective, tracking symptoms and my behaviors.\u201d Sonia Frontera, a 57-year-old attorney in Lambertville, NJ doesn\u2019t have just one chronic condition; she has several. These include a rare autoimmune disorder called relapsing polychondritis that causes pain and swelling of the ear, nausea, and dizziness; chronic migraines; and myofascial pain syndrome that causes tinnitus, or TMJ, and neck and wrist pain. Imagine having \u201ca head full of crickets while your eyeballs are being pierced with an ice pick\u201d and you\u2019ve got an idea of the pain Frontera experiences on a regular basis. Yet as bad as the physical symptoms are, it\u2019s the emotional aspects of living with chronic pain that she finds most difficult. \u201cWhen your condition is \u2018invisible,\u2019 people often dismiss your symptoms as hypochondria,\u201d she says. \u201cBeing misunderstood and judged can be devastating.\u201d Over the years, she\u2019s learned to be her own healthcare advocate. Her advice to others experiencing chronic pain? \u201cBe a medical detective,\u201d she says. \u201cKeep track of your symptoms and try to correlate the symptoms with your food intake, activities, or moods.\u201d Then share that info with your healthcare team. \u201cIt\u2019s hard for others to understand what it\u2019s like to live with pain every day.\u201d For 20-plus years, chronic pain has been Lacy Smith\u2019s constant companion. The wife and mother of two, based in Phoenix, AZ, was diagnosed with psoriasis, a skin disease that causes red, itchy scaly patches, and interstitial cystitis , a painful bladder condition. To help the people in her life understand what that\u2019s like, she uses what\u2019s known as the spoon theory . \u201cI have only a certain number of spoons each day\u2014each spoon represents a certain amount of energy or mobility,\u201d explains Smith, who is now 39 and works as a physical therapy assistant. \u201cSome days I wake up with one spoon; some days I wake up with 15. I have to divvy those up each day depending on what I wish to accomplish.\u201d For instance, \u201cif I have something important to do with my family, I need to make sure I save all my spoons for that event or the rest of my day could be shot.\u201d Structure and schedules are key. \u201cIt took me years to figure out that trying to keep my schedule completely open left me more opportunity to overdo things,\u201d she says.