To those who may read my posts, I apologize for the long break of no new entries. Sometimes things fall to the way side when life gets busy, and blogging was one of them. Today I would like to speak very briefly about chronic pain. I am no expert in this field, but have some information to share that might be worth considering.
A quick statistic to consider, 1 in 5 Canadians suffer from chronic pain, and Canadians often miss 28 days a year or more due to it. Chronic pain is often considered to be pain that continues 3-6 months after healing of an injury has occurred. It can be recurrent pain, intermittent pain or episodic pain and can happen to anyone at any age. There are a variety of causes, but it’s important to be aware that those suffering from chronic pain often start to have depression, anxiety, sleep difficulties, and other mental health related issues. These are often symptoms of the chronic pain.
Though individuals suffering from chronic pain can take medications for their treatment, it may not always be effective. Treating symptoms as well may not get to the root of the problem-which may not always be understood medically. Dealing with chronic pain can be a very complex and very difficult process. This is why empathy and understanding for someone with this diagnosis is crucial. Often those struggling with chronic pain are seen as “lying” or “trying to get attention” or perhaps “not able to cope”. Those suffering from chronic pain have an entirely different reality, where they are struggling with a body they may feel is failing them. They can become depressed and anxious, questioning why treatments (medical, alternative, psychotherapy, etc.) are not working and wishing that they had a way to cope. They may be frustrated that at times the symptoms and pain go away, but then suddenly come back with no warning, making them cancel plans and have to stay inside. It is these reasons that understanding, empathy, and support are the greatest weapons you can give to a friend or family member suffering from chronic pain. Understand when they need to cancel plans and perhaps even consider visiting them to see if they need help. Listen to them when they wish to open up, even if you feel you have heard their story many times. Their story keeps repeating for them, and having that social support can be helpful in their healing. Though it may not take away their pain completely, often support can help increase catharsis, take their mind off of their pain momentarily, and give them a break. So, consider putting yourself in their shoes as much as you can.
Reference: Lynch, M. E., D. Schopflocher, P. Taenzer and C. Sinclair (2009). “Research funding for pain in Canada.” Pain Res Manage, 14: 113-115