Living with Chronic Pain

Living With Chronic Pain? 10 Things You Wish People Knew


Chronic pain is a medical condition that usually can’t be seen by other people. Unfortunately, because it is an invisible illness, individuals with chronic pain may experience judgement about their condition, disbelief regarding their symptoms and a lack of support from friends, family, employers or even doctors. Here are ten things individuals with chronic pain want you to know.

1. No one intends to feel this way.

Nobody wants to have chronic pain, so be gentle. It is hurtful to say things such as, “It can’t hurt that bad,” or “Get over it.” Individuals with chronic pain are doing the best they can to manage their pain on a daily basis.

2. Many doctors do not understand chronic pain.

Because most medical schools only offer a few hours of training in chronic pain management, many doctors are not familiar with the complexities of chronic pain. Finding a health care provider who has extensive training in chronic pain conditions and experience treating individuals with chronic pain can be a time-consuming process.

3. Being unable to work is not the same as taking a vacation.

If a person with chronic pain is unable to work, it does not mean they are enjoying themselves at home. It may be difficult for them to perform routine daily tasks, such as getting out of bed, getting dressed and using the bathroom.

4. Many emotions are associated with chronic pain.

People with chronic pain are at an increased risk of developing all sorts of emotions, such as depression, denial, anxiety or despair. They may also feel isolated and often don’t have the energy to socialize.

5. Symptoms of chronic pain are complex.

Aside from being in pain, individuals may experience other symptoms associated with chronic pain, such as nausea, muscle cramping, brain fog, headaches, vision problems, gastrointestinal problems, change of appetite, etc.

6. Chronic fatigue is not the same as being tired.

Chronic fatigue is more than feeling tired. Daily activities, such as showering, getting dressed, making meals, etc., may be overwhelming and exhausting. People with chronic fatigue are not lazy or even over tired. The amount of sleep an individual gets has no relationship to chronic fatigue.

7. Pain changes on a daily basis.

Pain symptoms and intensity can change on a daily basis. Pain may radiate from different areas of the body, such as the legs, back, head, neck, shoulders, arms, or muscles on different days.

8. Brain fog is frustrating

Brain fog is a common symptom of chronic pain. It may cause difficulty speaking, memory loss, or forgetting where certain items have been placed.

9. Individuals with chronic illness have a greater risk of developing other conditions.

The common cold and respiratory infections may be more frequent and severe in individuals with a chronic illness. This is because the immune system is already compromised.

10. Certain foods can increase pain levels.

Certain inflammatory foods, such as gluten, dairy, alcohol, soy and processed foods, may worsen chronic pain symptoms. Individuals with chronic pain are not trying to be picky eaters, they simply do not want to aggravate their symptoms.

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