Living with Chronic Pain
10 Things People With Chronic Pain Wish Other People Knew
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- Doctors don’t always understand or recognize chronic pain.
Finding a doctor who validates and understands chronic pain can be time consuming. A health care provider, not specifically trained in pain management, can have misconceptions about chronic pain, leading to an incorrect diagnosis and misguided treatment. Myths, such as “young people don’t experience chronic pain” and “pain medication always leads to addiction,” may delay a proper diagnosis and influence the treatment of chronic pain.
- Individuals with chronic pain often deal with stigma and discrimination.
Treating chronic pain often involves the use of prescribed pain medications. Individuals often feel stigmatized by friends, family and even health care providers as a “drug seeker” or an addict when they are simply managing their pain.
- Chronic pain can affect emotional and mental health.
Financial burdens, altered family dynamics and the physical strain caused by chronic pain often lead to feelings of frustration, anxiety and despair. Individuals with chronic pain may feel lost and alone.
- Finances often suffer.
Many individuals with chronic pain are not able to maintain their work lives due to the nature of their condition. This, along with mounting medical bills, causes financial strain.
- Tiredness may be an understatement.
Severe fatigue may be more accurate. It can cause disruption of planned activities or can develop as a result of activities. Fatigue is a major symptom of chronic pain.
- Each day is different.
Chronic pain is unpredictable in severity and frequency. An individual with chronic pain cannot foresee how pain will affect them on an hourly basis, much less a daily basis.
- Brain fog adds to the challenge.
Individuals with chronic pain may deal with episodes of “brain fog.” Memory and concentration can be affected by the severity of pain.
- Chronic pain can be constant; the level of pain just varies.
Most individuals with chronic pain feel some level of pain 24 hours a day; however, the intensity of pain varies and fluctuates.
- Relationships are often affected.
Relationships with family and friends can become strained due to the unpredictability of chronic pain. Loved ones may feel slighted when social activities are planned and then cancelled at the last minute. They simply do not understand. Sometimes, family and friends simply stop visiting because they find it difficult to see their loved one in pain. This can lead to both emotional and physical isolation.
- Individuals with chronic pain are often experts on their condition.
Countless hours spent discussing their condition with doctors during health care appointments, researching it on the internet, dealing with successful and failed treatments, reading about it in magazines, journals and books, etc., makes an individual with chronic pain very knowledgeable about their condition. They know what triggers their pain, what treatments help their pain and what support they need to deal with the pain. Believe them.