If you’re like most people with chronic pain, you struggle to help your friends and family understand your condition.
Unlike acute pain, chronic pain does not serve a protective function.
See When Acute Pain Becomes Chronic Pain
Our list isn’t exhaustive, but here are 3 little-known facts about chronic pain for you to share with your loved ones to get them up to speed:
1. Chronic pain is real
Often times, people with chronic pain are treated as if they have made up—or at least exaggerated—their symptoms. But chronic pain is real, even though people with chronic pain desperately wish it was not.
Part of the problem is that chronic pain is typically the result of an anatomical problem that is difficult, or perhaps even impossible, to diagnose with standard medical tests. Additionally, pain cannot be diagnosed in the same manner as a broken bone or torn muscle. Simply put, when it comes to measuring and understanding pain generators and pain levels, science is still lacking.
However, there is widespread acceptance in the medical community of the reality and prevalence of chronic pain.
2. Chronic pain is LONELY
Many people with chronic pain feel isolated, and it is not hard to figure out why this is the case. For example, imagine that all of your friends are planning to spend the afternoon hiking—but you have to stay behind because of your chronic back pain.
Instead of treatment suggestions, or an email regarding the latest “miracle cure,” what people with chronic pain really need is empathy. Here the internet can provide a world of good in regards to helping people in pain connect with others in similar situations. For example, our Spine-health chronic pain forum is an active, vibrant, and supportive community.
3. Chronic pain can lead to sleep-related problems
Nearly two-thirds of people with chronic pain suffer from a sleep disorder. This is a major problem, as a lack of sleep can make chronic pain worse—which can result in a frustrating cycle of pain and sleeplessness.
This means that people with chronic pain are not trying to be grumpy or mean spirited. Rather, they are likely suffering from a lack of sleep, and on top of that are struggling with incessant pain. So be patient with chronic pain sufferers—they face a number of difficulties on a daily basis.
We hope that you will take the time to share the above facts with your friends and family. Of course, no single list can explain everything about chronic pain—but the more your loved ones know about chronic pain the more likely they are to sympathize with your condition.