Living with constant pain can make you feel alone. However, according to a study published in the British Journal of Pain (2015), you may share more with others than you thought. When surveyed, those with chronic pain had the following in common:
A need for an explanation. Many in chronic pain often ask themselves why the pain is there in the first place. They feel the need to understand and explain their situation. Their constant questioning is not due to ignorance, rather they are just bewildered as to why it is happening to them. As one study participant put it, “I just keep asking myself why the pain is there and I haven’t gotten an answer.”
Comparing themselves now to their past and future. People in chronic pain tend to compare where they are now with who they used to be. They look at their past and often remember the great shape that they were in. One study participant said, “When you don’t feel you have a future, you live in the past.” Those with constant pain also look at others their age and often see those people as more capable than them and enjoying their lives more. Many in chronic pain often look ahead and try to predict who they will be as they age and often have a gloomy outlook of their future.
Not feeling believed. Especially with pain without an explanation, individuals with chronic pain often do not feel they are believed when they describe their pain. Those in the study felt a continuous need to justify their pain as “real” and not to blame any part of their pain on a psychological cause.
Withdrawing from others. Chronic pain can cause many to withdraw from public view for a variety of reasons. Those in pain can feel like a burden to the ones they love and therefore they just want to be on their own. And, sometimes it is easier to not attend social events than to have to explain a chronic condition and risk being judged by others.
If you are living in chronic pain, you need to know that what you are feeling is a completely natural response and is common with others in chronic pain. This study highlights the need for those in chronic pain to network with others who understand the thoughts they are experiencing and feeling.
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Tracy Davenport, Ph.D., is a freelance health writer and the C.E.O. of Tracy’s Smoothie Place. She serves as the expert on a weekly radio show about health and wellness and is the author of Making Life Better for a Baby with Acid Reflux and multiple articles about the cost of caregiving. Learn more about Tracy and what healthy living services and products she can offer on her website. She can also be found on Twitter and Instagram @drinksmoothies.