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Living with Chronic Pain

Often I hear the same comment, “nobody understands the pain that I am in every single day.”

How do you explain chronic pain to someone who has never experienced it? It’s difficult to comprehend. Most people have experienced pain at one time or another, sometimes even severe pain.  The difference however, that is acute pain, pain that gets better over time and goes away leaving the person in their pre-pain state.  It is very difficult for someone to imagine breaking their leg and experiencing that pain every single day with no day off which is basically what chronic pain is. Chronic pain is defined as a condition of pain that continues weeks, months, even years after the initial insult.

It is difficult to explain chronic pain to someone who has never experienced it.  Many well-meaning people offer advice on therapies that work well for acute pain such as rest, ice, exercise, essential oils, participating in family functions etc. which are all great pain reducers. To a chronic pain patient however, many times they are already utilizing these therapies and many others and continue to have high pain levels.  If only it were that easy.  It is sometimes frustrating for the chronic pain patient to hear their friends without chronic pain sum up their conditions so minimally. They feel they are not heard or understood and this can lead to them withdrawing from the relationship completely.

The way to prevent this is communication.  Setting a time for the chronic pain sufferer to articulate how they actually feel and what truly makes them feel better.  If someone you love has chronic pain resist the temptation to try to fix it for them and listen to them. Remember that it is different than acute pain and your suggestions may not be effective, listen to what you can do to help them. It may be getting them an ice bag or accompanying them on a walk. 

When possible, make plans that include pain.  If there is a family gathering make sure that there is adequate seating, standing, and if needed, a space for lying down so the person with chronic pain can find a position of comfort throughout the event.  There should be no reason to skip events or functions, they just need to be modified so they can be enjoyed.  

Living with chronic pain is not easy and it is often difficult trying to explain chronic pain to others who want to help, but are not sure quite how.  Good communication is always the key.

Shauna Papa, RN Shauna Papa has been working with Dr. Baker as his nurse for 3 years now. She enjoys working closely with him to develop plans of care to help people in pain. Her favorite aspect of her job is seeing her patients return to their lives after receiving relief from debilitating pain conditions. She participates yearly in Pain Week in Las Vegas where she keeps up on all of the the latest advancements in pain management. Prior to working in pain management, Shauna worked extensively in trauma and emergency medicine both in the Phoenix area, and in Denver. In her time away from the office, Shauna enjoys spending time with her husband Randy and their 3 dogs Shilo, Ozzy and Baxter. She is a football fan and in keeping with her Denver roots, is a Denver Bronco super fan.

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