Caring For Someone With Chronic Pain
It is never easy to watch someone you love suffer from a chronic pain condition. Lots of people feel helpless watching one of their close friends or family members live in pain, but it is important to recognize that you and the sufferer are not alone. While each individual and each case is unique, we have compiled a list of general, helpful tips for you to keep in mind when caring for someone with chronic pain.
The first step you can take in caring for a chronic pain sufferer is to learn important information about their condition. Whether they have fibromyalgia, complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS), or any other ailment that causes consistent physical distress, take the time to learn enough about the disease for you to have helpful and sympathetic conversations with them. What is happening in their nervous system? What side effects may they be experiencing from their medications? What can you do to help? The internet can be a wonderful source of information, and blogs can be an excellent way to read firsthand accounts of those who have the same condition as your loved one. With the approval of the chronic pain sufferer, consider joining them in their doctor’s appointments and listening to the medical professionals they are seeing regularly. Specialists give valuable medical advice on pain management that is useful for both their patient and those who care for them. In this 21st century, there is endless information available to us literally at our fingertips. Utilize the vast amount of resources we are privileged to have in order to help your suffering loved one live their life as happily and pain-free as possible.
For those of us who are lucky enough to not have lived with chronic pain, it can be difficult to empathize with our loved ones who do. If we aren’t careful, we may end up losing our patience with them for things out of their control — including the inability to perform physical tasks that we consider easy, being irritable during times when we can’t physically see anything wrong, or even talking about their pain in a way that feels overbearing to us. It’s of the utmost importance that we recognize these moments where we feel our composure slipping away from us and immediately bring ourselves back to reality. Always remember that even if you don’t witness any obvious signs of pain from your friend or family member, that doesn’t mean they aren’t suffering. While the level of distress changes from day to day, it can be nearly impossible to know how much they are hurting at a particular point of time, and how that pain may be affecting their interactions with you. No matter what situation arises, it’s important to practice empathy and understanding to the greatest degree you possibly can.
Listen To Their Concerns
In following the prior two tips, you probably have confidence that you have a lot of knowledge about the person in pain and can present this information in an empathetic manner. This is fantastic, but you mustn’t forget how important the next tip is: listen to your loved ones’ thoughts and concerns. No matter how much information you gather about their condition, they are the one suffering lots of pain throughout their body. If they tell you that they don’t think they are up for the day’s planned activity or need to go back to sleep for longer than usual, hear what they have to say and answer accordingly. If you worry that they are acting in an unhealthy manner, gently have a conversation with them. Avoid accusatory phrases such as “You need to get out of the house” or “You’ll only make things worse for yourself.” While you may think these statements are helpful, they can be hurtful and result in feelings of guilt and shame. Instead, try warm suggestions such as “We don’t have to walk around, but maybe sitting on a bench in the park would be nice” or “I would love to get breakfast this morning. If you’re not feeling up to it, that’s okay. We can always go tomorrow.” This second approach allows you to convey your thoughts about a situation in a way that is not potentially damaging.
Don’t Forget About Yourself
It’s easy to get wrapped up in taking care of someone you love who is suffering a great deal. However, it’s always important to attend to your own needs as well. Research has shown that caretakers of people with chronic pain tend to withdraw from their friends, have weakened immune systems, and report feeling ill more often than the general population. Don’t forget basic steps for good health such as eating a healthy diet, getting proper exercise, and creating a regimented sleep schedule. It’s also important to take time to be with yourself and those who are close to you. Contact family friends who could act as a caretaker every once in a while to make sure you don’t give up your life for your loved one. Caring for someone with chronic pain involves a great deal of physical and mental energy, and you deserve some time to yourself. Monitor your own physiological and emotional wellbeing, and take the necessary steps to allow yourself to lead a fulfilling life.
At US Pain & Spine Institute, we specialize in conservative pain management. Our staff’s main goal is to grant relief to people with chronic pain. With a wide variety of treatment options, we work tirelessly to discover a treatment plan that works specifically for you. If you wish to learn more, please visit our website or contact us today. Let’s work together to find a solution that offers you little or no pain. At US Pain & Spine Institute, we pride ourselves on being more than pain management physicians; we’re your health partners.