Chronic pain is defined as long-term pain that lasts longer than 6 months.
People with chronic pain are fighting a daily battle, a battle often made worse by the insensitive attitudes of others who don’t know what it’s like to deal with persistent pain.
Around 50 million Americans (20%) are struggling with chronic pain, which means there’s a high probability someone in your life is trying to cope.
Pain comes in different forms. Migraine headaches, rheumatic pain, cancer pain, back pain, and nerve pain can take a huge toll on someone’s quality of life.
People who suffer from chronic pain have different pain thresholds and ways of coping. Everyone is different.
It’s common for people with chronic pain to suffer from anxiety and depression which can make symptoms feel even worse. So, if you notice that someone isn’t on form sometimes they may be experiencing an inner fight with pain.
Showing empathy and compassion with someone who has pain is the best thing you can do to support them.
If you’re lucky enough to not have to live with chronic pain here are 5 things sufferers want you to know.
1) They’ve Mastered The Art of Smiling Through Pain
Just because someone is smiling, it doesn’t mean they’re not in pain. Chronic pain sufferers become accustomed to hiding their pain as they don’t want to alienate people with constant moaning. They don’t want to worry their loved ones, either.
Chronic pain sufferers are masters at faking fine.
Depression and anxiety commonly accompany chronic pain. The simple act of asking if someone is in pain is enough to make someone feel supported. Offering words of compassion have the power to soothe someone more than you know.
Acknowledging someone’s struggles can really help to lift someone’s mood, even if it’s only a temporary boost. If you can cheer up a chronic pain sufferer, you momentarily relieve their physical pain.
2) It’s Exhausting
Chronic pain is difficult to treat. Having to endure unrelenting pain creates fatigue and depression.
Pain impedes restful sleep, so if someone has to work, feed the kids, and do the housework, tiredness takes its toll.
The emotional and physical energy it takes to deal with chronic pain means there’s not much energy left to enjoy life. On top of that, tiredness and pain exacerbate depression, making life very miserable indeed.
3) It’s Expensive
Chronic pain isn’t cheap. Health insurance, pain medication prescriptions, and physical therapy all eat into the budget.
Beyond this, if medication and physical therapy aren’t working, complementary therapies like acupuncture, chiropractic care, or osteopathy can provide temporary relief. Unfortunately, these treatments are pricey, and they’re not covered by healthcare.
A massage or osteopath session can set you back around $100, money which should be going on living expenses.
Being poor because of pain exacerbates anxiety and depression, and inflames an already wearing situation.
4) They Want You To Understand, Not Give Advice
Chronic pain sufferers often get well-meaning comments such as “I hope you feel better soon.”
Let’s face it, almost all chronic pain sufferers know they won’t get better soon. Chronic pain is usually a life-long battle. This type of platitude really doesn’t do much good.
People who live with pain have usually tried everything. Even if they haven’t, they’re not typically in the most constructive mindset to receive well-meaning advice such as, “Have you tried acupuncture?” This type of well-meaning just makes someone feel worse.
While your well-meaning comments are appreciated, they don’t necessarily help a pain sufferer. It’s just not that simple. They’re trying to manage many negative thought processes on top of their pain while showing a brave face to the world.
5) They Look Healthy But Inside They’re In Agony
People with invisible conditions such as fibromyalgia may look healthy and fit, but inside they’re experiencing a living hell.
Many people dismiss fibromyalgia sufferers as overly dramatic or attention-seeking. This can only add to their misery.
People who aren’t visibly in pain because they aren’t limping aren’t making it up. They need you to empathize and understand. By dismissing their pain you only add to their anxiety and depression, which exacerbates their pain further.
People who are lucky enough to not be in constant pain can sometimes be quite insensitive, which is hurtful to a person with invisible pain.
Try to have some compassion. If someone says they have pain, believe them, and offer some words of sympathy and compassion.
Simply acknowledge their pain and show them that you believe them. That’s all you can do, and all they want is to be heard.
For further advice on how to support a person with chronic pain, you can consult a pain doctor in Arizona.