20 Things People With Chronic Pain Want You to Know
To be diagnosed with chronic pain, one must experience pain for longer than three months.
Right now, if someone were to hand you a survey which asked when you last suffered from chronic pain, and you were able to answer “never,” count yourself lucky as 100 million Americans are not able to say the same. When doing the math, this number is greater than those dealing with diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke and cancer combined. That’s huge.
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So, with such a high number of people coping with such a devastating illness (maybe even someone in your life) here are a few things they might like you to know so you can better understand the realities of this condition.
1. This is not just “in my head”
As humans, part of the empathy process involves having visual cues to provide understanding for what someone is dealing with. Therefore, when trying to figure out what life must be like with chronic pain, this process might prove challenging, as we don’t always see something to which we can relate.
It’s this missing validation that may contribute to a lack of understanding of how much the person really is suffering. In the case of chronic pain, give someone the benefit the doubt and know that just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean it’s “just in [their] head.”
2. Constantly dealing with pain is exhausting
There are many reasons why pain causes extreme fatigue. One of the most obvious is that it makes it very challenging to get a good night’s sleep. Feeling tired often makes the pain worse, and the cycle just spirals from there. Plus, even if a chronic pain sufferer is sleeping normally, many pain medications can cause drowsiness.
Our central nervous system is constantly processing the pain-related signals travelling throughout the body. This means the brain of a chronic pain sufferer is always “on,” and this in and of itself is entirely exhausting. As if all that isn’t bad enough, add in the fact that many chronic pain sufferers find their muscles are constantly tensed in response to the discomfort they’re experiencing.
3. Chronic pain doesn’t affect just one part of my body
Chronic pain is often felt throughout the body. To give just one example, it often causes aching and stiffness in the joints and the muscles.
Since pain’s effects are so extensive, it alters many of the actions non-sufferers take for granted. Getting out of bed, walking to the bus stop, carrying heavy groceries, and hugging a loved one are all seemingly simple everyday tasks that can become excruciating or even impossible for someone experiencing chronic pain.
But it also takes a toll on one’s mental health. Read on to find out how…