Living with Chronic Pain

Family & Friends

Living with a chronic pain condition not only affects the life of the person with pain but can also affect the lives of their family and friends. An individual with chronic pain often experiences significant changes, both physically and emotionally. A once happy and outgoing individual may become depressed, angry or moody. The emotional and physical changes that accompany a chronic pain diagnosis can change interactions and relationships with family and friends.

When a family member has a chronic pain condition, both the immediate and extended family are usually affected as well. Roles within the immediate family may change, as the family member with chronic pain may not be able to function as they once did. They may not be as involved in parenting or may not be able to continue working and providing for the family. These changes can have an emotional impact on family members. Family members who have to “fill in the gaps” may feel resentment, while the family member with chronic pain may develop guilty feelings about their reduced ability to contribute. Open and honest communication is essential to maintain a strong family unit.

If a family member with chronic pain is unable to travel or attend family events due to their chronic pain condition, relationships with extended family members may deteriorate. Family members may have a lack of understanding about chronic pain or the condition causing it. This can cause the individual with chronic pain to self-isolate from the family. A supportive and understanding extended family can help prevent this from occurring.

People who live with chronic pain may withdraw from family and friends and self-isolate as a result of the pain and pain-related mental health issues, such as anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Last minute cancellations of social events with friends may occur due to high pain levels. If an individual with chronic pain is able to socialize with a friend, they may feel like they don’t know what to say, as their life seems to revolve around medical appointments and health issues. It can be discouraging for both parties involved. Social media provides a way to connect with friends without the pressure of keeping a social commitment. Strong, supportive friendships are essential for those living with chronic pain.

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