It’s not always easy to know what to do when someone you love is struggling with chronic pain. The person may seem distant and uncommunicative, and you may feel helpless. They may be irritable and short-tempered and seem to have given up on life altogether.
The best thing to do is be there for the person, listen to them, and offer emotional support. There are also some practical things you can do to help them cope with the pain and make their life a little easier.
What is Chronic Pain?
Chronic pain is ongoing pain that lasts for more than 12 weeks or pain that persists long after the illness or injury causing it. It can be caused by an injury, a medical condition, or surgery. Sometimes the cause is unknown. Chronic pain can be mild, moderate, or severe. I can also be constant or intermittent.
Chronic pain can become crippling without treatment, and severely impact your physical and emotional wellbeing. It can lead to depression, anxiety, and sleep problems. It can also make it hard to work, take care of yourself, and enjoy life.
What You Can Do to Help Someone With Chronic Pain
If someone you love has chronic pain, there are some things you can do to help. These include:
Educate yourself about chronic pain
Chronic pain is a complex condition, and it can be challenging to understand what the person is going through. Learning as much as you can about chronic pain can help you become more understanding and accommodating.
Chronic pain can be frustrating and exhausting and can take a toll on the person’s mood, productivity, and overall wellness. It’s essential to be patient and understand that the person may not always be able to do everything they used to or fulfill all their obligations.
Help with practical tasks
Chronic pain can make everyday tasks harder or even impossible to accomplish. You can help by taking on some of the person’s responsibilities, or by helping out with tasks that are difficult for them. For example, you could do the grocery shopping, manage the laundry, or help to clean the house.
However, you should also respect the person’s wishes and not try to take over their life. After all, staying physically active can sometimes help ease pain and promote mobility.
Offer emotional support
Living with chronic unrelenting pain can be a lonely and isolating experience. The person may feel like no one understands what they’re going through. It’s important to offer emotional support and to be there for them when they need to talk.
Don’t try to “fix” their problem
It’s only natural to want to help someone you love to find a quick “fix” for their pain. But it is important to remember that chronic pain is often a complex condition requiring long-term treatment. Trying to find a quick fix can prove to be frustrating and overwhelming for both of you.
Encourage healthy coping mechanisms
Chronic pain can lead to unhealthy coping mechanisms, such as excessive drinking or drug use, which only worsen the pain in the long run. It’s vital to encourage healthy coping mechanisms, such as relaxation techniques, regular exercise, and a healthy diet.
Encourage professional treatment
If the person’s pain is severe or they have difficulty coping, encourage them to seek professional help. A pain specialist can help pinpoint the underlying cause of the pain and develop a treatment plan to combat the pain. Treatments for chronic pain may include medication, physical therapy, psychological counseling, and other interventions.
The Bottom Line
Living with chronic pain can be exasperating and exhausting. But with the right support, it is possible to manage chronic pain and live a full life. If someone you love has chronic pain, being understanding and supportive can make a world of difference.