Coping with chronic pain can be a daily struggle, the ceaseless pursuit of relief and normalcy. Routine tasks for others, such as getting out bed, showering or exiting a vehicle, are often frustratingly difficult. Each day, depending on the specific circumstances of that day, can be a morning-to-bedtime challenge.
But beyond the physical ailments, there’s also a mental toll visited upon chronic pain sufferers. There’s a sense of being misunderstood, a feeling of being alone in the journey. While you can’t eliminate the hurt, you can support friends and loved ones by understanding these eight realities about their unique situation.
1. Pain and Depression are Inseparable
If you’ve ever ached, even on a manageable level, you understand the impact it can have on mood. Imagine, then, how it affects those who suffer day-in and day-out. Chronic pain is often deeply demoralizing, resulting in a persistent sadness that can harm important relationships and lead to isolation. There will be pockets of happiness, no doubt, but not without plenty of hard work and assistance. Please be patient with those in pain—they’re doing their best to maintain a positive outlook.
2. Inactive Does Not Mean Lazy
Chronic pain sufferers can be many things. Lazy is not one of them. In fact, the opposite is often the case, with incapacitated individuals longing for the chance to enjoy full and active lives that allow them to achieve personal goals. They want to work and play without limitations, though that possibility can fluctuate from day-to-day. Ironically, judging others without knowing any of the facts is the far truer depiction of laziness.
3. The Pain is Very Real
Pain is invisible. And as such, it’s impossible to truly appreciate how much it hurts, regardless of what we say to our afflicted friends, co-workers and family members. If you genuinely care and want to be supportive, understand that the discomfort is no figment of the imagination, drummed up to command attention or sympathy. It’s real, it’s at times debilitating and it cannot be wished away … unfortunately.
4. Meds Always Come With Side-Effects
True, there’s a time and a place when only prescription medications will provide relief. But they ought to be treated as a last resort, no more than an adjunct to a comprehensive management plan. Those dealing with incessant pain have done the research regarding this specific ailment. And they’re open to trying any and all non-med options, including physical therapy, exercise, diet and alternative therapies like massage, acupuncture, meditation and biofeedback.
5. Looks Can Be Deceiving
When lasting pain plants roots, its victims are susceptible to losing a firm grip on their usual roles as spouse, parent, friend and employee. Chronic pain patients can dictate their physical appearance, so it becomes a priority. But while they may seem visibly healthy and vibrant, it does not mean the pain has vanished. Instead, it’s indicative of the importance of fitting in, gaining acceptance and carving out pockets of normality whenever possible.
6. Good Answers Can Be Elusive
You’ve sought the expertise of the medical community, sometimes on multiple occasions. You’ve done your homework, becoming a subject expert on what ails you. You remain open to solutions. And yet, meaningful answers can so be difficult to pin down. Since mining to the root cause of pain can be like navigating a labyrinth, finding the right treatment can be equally maddening. Patience and the right medical support team increase the probability for long-term success.
7. This Pain Is Not Normal
Some degree of soreness is standard for everyone at every stage of life. The pain felt by the chronic sufferer is markedly different, though, both in its severity and its regularity. Prolonged issues are the ones that interfere with quality of life, including personally and professionally. Sure, getting older raises the likelihood of experiencing intermittent aches. But this is different. It’s abnormal, and treating it as routine is a detriment to the afflicted person.
8. Movement Helps
Although every situation differs, as a general rule of thumb, a body in motion is better suited to repel the ravages of pain. When movement can be tolerated, it ought to be employed liberally, since exercise can be beneficial to body, mind and spirit. On those days when your body is cooperating, reward it by enjoying a walk, a swim or whatever helps you feel like you again. And if you can do it outdoors, even better.
Chronic pain impacts millions of people each year, turning their lives upside down. Rather than flying solo on this difficult journey, join forces with an expert in pain management and physical therapy. Contact JAG-ONE Physical Therapy today to find out which of its programs is right for you.