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Tips For Dealing With People In Chronic Pain

Jan 24, 2010 - 4 comments


1. People with chronic pain seem unreliable (we can't count on ourselves). When feeling better we promise things (and mean it); when in serious pain, we may not even show up.

2. An action or situation may result in pain several hours later, or even the next day. Delayed pain is confusing to people who have never experienced it.

3. Pain can inhibit listening and other communication skills. It's like having someone shouting at you, or trying to talk with a fire alarm going off in the room. The effect of pain on the mind can seem like attention deficit disorder. So you may have to repeat a request, or write things down for a person with chronic pain. Don't take it personally, or think that they are stupid.

4. The senses can overload while in pain. For example, noises that wouldn't normally bother you, seem too much.

5. Patience may seem short. We can't wait in a long line; can't wait for a long drawn out conversation.

6. Don't always ask "how are you" unless you are genuinely prepared to listen it just points attention inward.

7. Pain can sometimes trigger psychological disabilities (usually very temporary). When in pain, a small task, like hanging out the laundry, can seem like a huge wall, too high to climb over. An hour later the same job may be quite OK. It is sane to be depressed occasionally when you hurt.

8. Pain can come on fairly quickly and unexpectedly. Pain sometimes abates after a short rest. Chronic pain people appear to arrive and fade unpredictably to others.

9. Knowing where a refuge is, such as a couch, a bed, or comfortable chair, is as important as knowing where a bathroom is. A visit is much more enjoyable if the chronic pain person knows there is a refuge if needed. A person with chronic pain may not want to go anywhere that has no refuge ( place to sit or lie down).

10. Small acts of kindness can seem like huge acts of mercy to a person in pain. Your offer of a pillow or a cup of tea can be a really big thing to a person who is feeling temporarily helpless in the face of encroaching pain.

11. Not all pain is easy to locate or describe. Sometimes there is a body-wide feeling of discomfort, with hard to describe pains in the entire back, or in both legs, but not in one particular spot you can point to. Our vocabulary for pain is very limited, compared to the body's ability to feel varieties of discomfort.

12. We may not have a good "reason" for the pain. Medical science is still limited in its understanding of pain. Many people have pain that is not yet classified by doctors as an officially recognized "disease". That does not reduce the pain, - it only reduces our ability to give it a label, and to have you believe us.

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Avatar universal
by painmaster, Jun 28, 2011

A very enjoyable read that I and am sure many others can relate to.Whom ever wrote this, was in touch with the "real" world of pain.I wish that many more folks can have the opportunity to read this.Great work.
( paimmaster 0

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by pca3055, Jul 03, 2011
An excellent understanding of Chronic Pain. Anyone can take something that is temporary but if it is chronic you do become irritable, and desperate to find some relief. You become very inward in your thinking and I never was that way before! I ditto the comment above. I believe if more people read this , especially if those that  live with someone in this situation, the better understanding they would have and it would help both parties. More research and education needs to be done!!!!

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by Tuckamore, Jul 05, 2011
I've sent this to many a friend and family member. I've gotten great responses and at least for awhile I think they understood where I am coming from.  Sometimes I think it's about time to "refresh" a few family members memories...but then I also know some will just never "get it."  Sometimes I don't get it!!!  :o)

PCA, your comment about more research and education needs to be done is soo-oo true. Much of the general public views us as druggies or weak.

To some degree I am luckier then most due to the severity of the MVA. It was touch and go for me for well over a month. My family and friends remember that time. Still some beleive I am just "puttin on,"  my head tells me those ppl don't really count.... but my heart cries.


Avatar universal
by geminigirl1963, Jul 05, 2011
Tuck - thank you for posting this again.  I've read it in the past and plan on reading it more myself, as well as passing it along to friends and family.

I think it not only helps those "others" to understand what we, as CP patients, go through on a daily basis, but at least for me, it has also helped ME to realize sometimes that what I'm feeling and things I find myself doing (such as making sure before I make any plans to go somewhere that there's goign to be adequate seating available) - is perfectly "normal" and I'm really not going crazy!  #3 especially pertains to me recently - my pain has increased and my memory/attention span has definitley seemed to have decreased.  I find myself having to constantly write notes to myself to remind me of things when I think of them because I find myself forgetting them more often because of the pain distracting me.  And as it says in #3, I find myself having to ask people to repeat themselves because I just can't seem to "grasp" the entire conversation sometimes.  My computer monitor looks almost like a rainbow right now with all the little post-it notes attached!

Thanks again, not only for this post, but for all the wonderful advice you've give to me and so many others here on medhelp.


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