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A Guide To Chronic Pain Management: How To Understand Pain and Help Your Loved One With Chronic Pain

17 January 2023

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Key Points

  • Chronic pain is a life-altering condition that can greatly impact your loved one’s mental and physical health. It can be difficult to understand what it’s like to live with chronic pain, especially if you’ve never experienced it yourself.
  • It’s important that you learn about the condition so that you can provide the support and understanding your loved one needs.
  • Knowing how to help someone cope with pain is important, but it’s also important to recognise that your loved one will have to take an active role in their own recovery.
  • You can help support your loved one by learning more about chronic pain, offering practical advice and emotional support, and encouraging them to seek treatment.

Introduction

Chronic pain is a problem that is all too familiar to the people who live with it. It’s when pain persists or recurs despite appropriate treatment.

People with chronic pain often feel alone and misunderstood, making it difficult for them to get the support they need. This condition can lead to depression, anxiety, and even suicide if left untreated.

If you know someone who has chronic pain, there are several things you can do to help them cope with their condition and make life better.

But before we get to the tips, let us introduce you to Lyphe, UK’s leading medical cannabis clinic. If you or your loved ones are suffering from chronic pain, you can book a consultation with one of our doctors to find out if medical cannabis is a suitable treatment option for your condition and get a medical cannabis prescription. 

1. Inform yourself about their condition

It’s important to know what you’re dealing with, so you can be an effective supporter and advocate for your loved one. You may want to read up on chronic pain conditions like fibromyalgia and RA (rheumatoid arthritis), as well as common symptoms of chronic pain.

Here are a few queries you can ask your loved one to help you better understand their condition:

  1. How often do you have flare-ups?
  2. What kinds of pain do you experience? Is it sharp or dull?
  3. Where is it located in your body?
  4. Do you feel pressure as well as pain?
  5. Does the pain radiate to other areas of your body and travel around there, or does it stay in one place?
  6. How long does each episode last?
  7. What are some common symptoms of their illness?
  8. Are there other things going on in their lives that could affect their symptoms (like depression)?

The last thing you want to happen is to create more stress for your loved one. And it all starts with understanding what chronic pain is, how it affects your loved one, and how you can help them cope.

2. Make time to listen to them and hear their story

Close-up Man holding the hands of a woman

Most people living with chronic pain feel like their story is boring to others. But in reality, they have a lot of emotions swirling around inside them that need an outlet. They need someone who will listen and care about what they are going through on a daily basis.

They need someone who will understand what they are going through and not judge them for it. The best thing you can do is make time to talk with your loved one and really listen to what they have to say about their pain.

A key part of this process is asking questions if something doesn’t make sense or if there are gaps in what they’re saying. By asking questions about their experience and listening carefully to their responses, you can learn more about why they feel the way they do.

3. Respect their physical limitations and boundaries

Husband comforting distressed wife

When someone is in pain, they may not be able to do all of the things they used to. This can be especially true for people with chronic pain because this type of pain is often unpredictable and can flare up at any time.

Your first urge may be to help by doing things for them that they can’t do themselves. But don’t assume that because someone is in pain, they won’t be able to do anything at all—or that everything has to fall on your shoulders.

It’s essential to know their physical limitations and boundaries. Some considerations you should make include the following:

  1. Anything that involves nudity (e.g., bathing, shaving, bowel movement) can be very uncomfortable for someone who is in pain.
  2. Eating can be a distressing experience. It’s best to ask them if they want help before you begin preparing their food or serving it to them.
  3. Activities that involve any form of physical touch (e.g., hugging, holding hands, back rubs) can be very uncomfortable for someone who is in pain.
  4. Bringing in visitors, health practitioners, or caretakers into the home will be more frequent. Be sure to notify the person and ask for their consent before the visit so that they can prepare for it.

If they say no, respect their wishes and don’t push them into doing something that will cause more discomfort. Letting your loved one know that you’re aware of their limitations will allow them to express themselves more easily when communicating about future plans.

4. Check in with them, but don’t hover

One of the best things you can do for someone in pain is to check in with them. Ask how they’re feeling, if there’s anything you can do to help or if there’s anything you can do for them.

A simple question like “How are you feeling today?” can go a long way toward letting your loved one know that you care. However, if you ask them too many times, it can come across as being intrusive.

Don’t hover. Let them know that you’re there if they need something, but give them space to move around and be independent as much as possible. At the end of the day, the best thing you can do for someone in pain is to be there for them.

5. Hang out with them, even if they’re not feeling well

Hanging out with someone who is in pain is hard, but it can be rewarding. Having a friend around can help you feel less alone and more supported. In addition, it’s always nice to have someone to talk to when you’re feeling better again.

But don’t pressure them into doing anything they don’t want to do. If your friend wants to rest, let them rest. If your loved one needs some space, let them have some space. Be there for them when they’re ready, but don’t force yourself onto them if they don’t want you around.

6. Don’t be afraid to talk about it

If you’re feeling anxious or worried about someone in pain, it’s okay to talk about it. You might be afraid that bringing up the topic will make them feel worse, but this isn’t usually the case. In fact, many people find it comforting when their friends acknowledge their situation and take an interest in what they’re going through.

Some ways to start a conversation about your loved one’s pain include:

  • “I’ve noticed that you seem to be in pain. Is there anything I can do?”
  • “How are you doing right now?”
  • “If there’s anything I can do for you, please let me know.”

Just remember to understand limits and boundaries, as this is on a case-to-case basis. Some people find humour to be soothing, while others might prefer to talk about the situation in a more serious manner. Your own discretion should be used in this regard.

7. Offer to run errands or help around the house

If you’re not able to help the person with their pain, think about ways that you can be supportive. Doing the physical leg work for the person in pain can be a great way of showing them that you care. If there’s something that needs to be done around the house, offer to do it for them.

Offer to run errands or do household chores for them, such as grocery shopping and laundry. You could also offer to help with repairs around the house, like fixing a leaky faucet or replacing a broken window. You might also consider taking care of pets or children if they are available.

However, it’s important to remember that some people may not want such help. If this is the case, don’t force them into accepting your offer, as it could be seen as condescending.

8. Encourage teamwork and communication

If you are in a position to help, encourage your loved one to talk about their pain symptoms and how they impact their lives. Create a pain management plan that includes everything from physical exercises (like yoga or walking) to mental strategies (like meditation).

Keep track of progress on the chart that you created together, as well as any changes in health or behaviour that may be due to the treatment plan. Encouraging self-care is important, but you should also ask your loved one if they would like to be involved in their own treatment. This could include making appointments with a doctor or therapist, following up on those appointments, and doing homework afterwards.

9. Be patient but firm about the boundaries of your support

It’s important to be patient and understanding but firm when it comes to setting boundaries. You should never feel pressured into doing something that you don’t want to do or feel guilty about saying no.

If someone asks you for help, don’t try to do everything yourself—let them know what they can do and where they can get more information on their condition. You may end up burning yourself out if you don’t take care of yourself first.

Remember, you don’t have to be a superhero. You can help someone else without sacrificing your own health or happiness—just remember to take care of yourself first.

10. Let go of any guilt you feel

If you’re feeling guilty and angry, it may be because you feel responsible for your friend’s pain. But your friend isn’t a failure or a weak person—they have chronic pain, and their body is going through a difficult transition.

It can be overwhelming to see someone suffering like this, especially when they don’t seem to know what they should do. Understand that these negative emotions are normal —and that they often come with the territory when someone is dealing with chronic pain.

11. Be part of their pain management journey

 Close-up of caring doctor touching the mature patient’s shoulder

If your friend is willing, it can be immensely helpful for you to be a part of their pain management journey.

Your involvement does not need to be 100 per cent. You can choose to be involved as much or as little as you like, but being a part of their pain management journey can make both of your lives easier.

Here are a few ways to get involved:

  1. Offer to go along with your friend to their doctor’s appointments.
  2. If they are prescribed medications, offer to help them fill the prescription and ensure that they have enough money for it.
  3. If your friend is at a loss for what to do, offer to take them to a doctor and get the necessary tests or scans done.
  4. If they are uninsured, offer to help them find health care coverage.

Conclusion

Pain is a powerful emotion that can compromise the lives of people with chronic pain. Following a chronic condition, one of the most difficult adjustments to make is dealing with pain on a daily basis.

It’s important to recognise that someone with chronic pain is fighting an actual battle against their own body and needs support. Chronic pain can be a real medical condition, and it’s important not to trivialise or make fun of them because they have this condition.

While there is no “magic bullet” that will make your loved one’s pain go away, there are many options for managing and treating this condition. And being there for your friend or loved one goes a long way in helping them manage their pain condition.

At Lyphe, we provide a safe and confidential space for people to speak with doctors about their chronic pain. We want our patients and their loved ones to feel comfortable asking questions, so we encourage you to contact us if you are interested in learning more about how medical cannabis can help treat chronic pain.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What are some pain coping strategies?

Keeping track of pain symptoms (including where they occur and how often) will help you identify any patterns or triggers. It’s also essential to have a strong support system in place, such as family and friends who can provide emotional support when needed.

What do you say to someone who is struggling with chronic pain?

It can be hard to know what to say when someone close to you is suffering from chronic pain. It’s important not to minimise their feelings or experiences and instead be supportive in any way that feels comfortable for both of you.

How do you live with a partner with chronic pain?

Living with a partner dealing with chronic pain can be difficult, but it’s important to remember that your partner is not their pain. You can’t “fix” the problem for them, but you can offer support and compassion to help them cope with their symptoms.

What are the 4 A’s of pain management?

The 4 A’s include analgesia, activities of daily living, adverse events, and aberrant substance-taking behaviours. The goal is to help patients achieve adequate pain relief while maintaining function and preventing abuse or misuse of prescription medications.

How do you love someone with a chronic illness?

You have to be willing to accept that this person may not always be the same person you fell in love with. They will go through many changes over time, and they will need your support through each step of the process.

References

https://www.health.qld.gov.au/news-events/news/caring-for-someone-with-chronic-pain

https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/pain/how-to-get-nhs-help-for-your-pain/

https://www.cuh.nhs.uk/patient-information/helping-others-to-understand-chronic-pain/

https://www.britishpainsociety.org/people-with-pain/frequently-asked-questions/

https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/lessons-from-a-chronic-pain-management-program-2017091312353

 

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