Educating Your Family and Friends on Chronic Pain

Educating Your Family and Friends on Chronic Pain

No illness exists in  a vacuum. Living with chronic pain, whether it’s the result of a trauma, a surgery, injury, or condition or disease affects not only the sufferer, but the people in their lives. Caregivers, friends, family, loved ones, and coworkers are all affected by the chronic pain of the sufferer. Even well-meaning loved ones may not have the resources to be effectively supportive. Education can help make communication flow more smoothly and reduce the guilt and frustration on all sides.

Speak Up

Communication can be one of the most frustrating parts of dealing with chronic pain. If your friends and family don’t know when you’re in pain, they can’t begin to try to be supportive. Don’t be afraid to speak up and be specific about the pain you’re having. It

Educating Your Family and Friends on Chronic Pain


may be helpful to give your pain a rating system. On a day, for example, that your pain is at a level one, you might not need as much support and help as on a day that it’s closer to a four or a five. Work out a simple system that works for you and your family, for communicating your pain levels. Allow your loved ones to support you through this difficult time.

Collect Information

Families are, by nature, complicated by the feelings attached to relationships. Communication can be difficult if one family member doesn’t feel heard or if all parties don’t listen and learn with respect. Removing some of the emotional turmoil from communication can make learning easier. Referring to third-party sources of information like books, websites, and even conversations with your own doctor can remove the temptation of family members to dismiss the information as subjective, reducing the conflict around the conversation and making it easier to convey important information.

Write it Down

If you have trouble expressing your feelings about chronic pain, discussing your pain, or talking to your family, consider writing down your thoughts rather than trying to talk about it. This allows you to express your thoughts and feelings without interruption, at your own pace. Since chronic pain can be exhausting, it may be necessary to write in short bursts, allowing yourself time to recharge and return to the task when you feel able.

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