Living with Chronic Pain
Social Media and Chronic Pain
Social media has both benefits and disadvantages, especially for individuals dealing with chronic pain. Online networking allows sharing and receiving information, ideas and thoughts that can provide a positive influence or a negative impact. In order to gain the greatest benefits, while limiting or preventing potential harm, individuals should understand the benefits and risks associated with social media.
Benefits of social media for those with chronic pain
Many individuals with chronic pain do not have close friends or family members that completely understand their condition. Fully connecting with others who are knowledgeable of the challenges attached to chronic pain is difficult. Social media allows individuals from around the world to make connections with those who understand chronic pain and the struggles associated with it, which can increase feelings of belonging and decrease loneliness.
Sharing about chronic pain on social media also helps to normalize it. It shows that chronic pain is only one part of life. Sharing a specific chronic pain journey with others can take away the shame or fear that arises when discussing chronic pain conditions.
Social media can also be beneficial for education and advocacy purposes. Individuals with chronic pain or a chronic illness can educate others about the facts surrounding their condition or what it is like to live with a particular condition. It provides a place to share injustices seen or experienced, and to advocate for necessary changes.
Risks of social media for those with chronic pain
When using social media, individuals often unconsciously compare themselves to others. This can result in negatively thinking about their physical appearance compared to others. They may see others doing enjoyable activities that they cannot participate in, which can contribute to loneliness and depression.
Social media can also be very time-consuming. A person may find themselves scrolling endlessly for hours, leaving them feeling unproductive. On a similar note, social media can be an unhealthy coping mechanism. Individuals may use it as a distraction or way to numb feelings instead of finding a productive way to manage those feelings.
For individuals dealing with chronic pain, seeing certain posts from others with chronic pain may contribute to stress and other negative emotions. For example, seeing a post about a marriage that ended due to a loss of intimacy related to chronic pain may make individuals worry about their own relationship or cause feelings of anger. Seeing that a specific medication or treatment did not work for one person can cause others to feel hopeless that the treatment will work for them.
In conclusion, individuals with chronic pain can use social media to help with connection, education, and advocacy. However, it should be done so carefully to avoid the negative impacts it can have.
Additional sources: Psychology Today, Arizona Pain, and Ankylosing Spondylitis News