Living with Chronic Pain

5 Tips to Tactfully Communicate With Someone About Their Chronic Pain


Chronic pain is unpredictable. Individuals living with chronic pain can go from feeling minimal pain to feeling heightened pain and fatigue in a matter of minutes.

The lifestyle changes that accompany the experience of living with chronic pain can alter relationships with family and friends. Open communication about chronic pain can help foster trust, helping to maintain or develop meaningful relationships.

Some tips to foster positive communication with an individual with chronic pain include the following:

  1. Talk as a peer.
    One of the best ways to talk with someone about their chronic pain is simply by actively listening. Be sensitive. Criticism, stress, and conflict increases pain. While you may think a pep talk is in order when you see them deal with frustration or sadness, a pep talk can be demoralizing and aggravating for the individual with chronic pain.
  2. Do not offer medical advice.
    Individuals with chronic pain are continuously collaborating with doctors to take the right steps to improve and treat their condition. Therefore, it is best not to suggest medical advice, especially if you are not medically trained.
  3. Do not compare health problems.
    Avoid talking about times when you were in pain and were successfully treated; this shows a lack of empathy and understanding toward the person who deals with chronic pain on a daily basis and may make them feel like other people handle pain better than they do.
  4. Be positive and genuine.
    Positivity goes a long way in supporting someone with chronic pain. Offering hope, showing love, and providing unwavering support are all critical things to communicate to the people you care about who are dealing with chronic pain.
  5. Start a dialogue
    Asking about the individual’s chronic pain and how it affects their daily lives is a nice gesture. Since most people rarely converse about difficult topics, start with an open-ended question, such as “How do you feel today?”
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