Why it’s good to talk about chronic pain

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This blog post follows on quite nicely from my previous one about why I’m blogging about my pain. I look at why it’s both useful and good to talk about chronic pain and the benefits it can have. And there are a few good tips to help you get started talking about your own pain.

Firstly, it can help us get the help and support we need. For example, visiting your doctor and getting referred to see a specialist who has more knowledge in the medical field associated with your pain. This can lead to the right investigations, treatment or medication. If you are working then being open and honest about how your pain is affecting you and your job can lead to getting workplace adjustments to help you do your job.

Secondly, there is no point bottling it up. I often speak to people who find it embarrassing or shameful to talk about their pain, or their condition and symptoms. Or they feel that it defies who they are. Life does change when you have a health condition or a disability, but it should not dictate who you are or what you do. It is just as important to deal with the mental aspects of chronic pain and giving someone the opportunity to talk about chronic pain is one part of this.

A little more about my pain

In the early days I too was embarrassed to speak about my pain and how it affected me. I, like many others, pretended everything was ok and bravely put a smile on my face and tried to carry on as normal. (In some situations I still do, but I’ll speak more about that in a future post.)

I don’t have a diagnosis nor do I know what causes it. It’s hard to describe and it’s embarrassing to talk about. All I can say to people is that it is lower back pain and I’m in pain when I sit down.

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I was originally diagnosed as having coccydynia. Two years later specialists decided that I had a dislocated coccyx. A further three years later and major surgery to remove my coccyx, the pain is just the same. I also have no explanation to tell myself or other people. Out of everything, this is one of the hardest things. Invisible disabilities and health conditions are hard to explain at the best of times but when you have no valid explanation to justify what is causing the daily agony that you life with, then things get that little bit harder.

Pain Awareness Month

As far as I know, there are no UK national days or months that raise awareness Or encourage people to talk about chronic pain. There should be, but ironically, it is far too misunderstood to have a national day to talk about it. Pain Awareness Month is, however, promoted in the month of September in America.

The American Chronic Pain Association helps to promote public awareness of pain and pain management and the issues that people face. And this is a good thing.

Knowing you’re not alone

Taking that first step and talking about things can be a huge step in realising that you are not alone. This is extremely powerful. It’s hard to explain really. When someone ‘gets it’ it can be very comforting. If more is done about raising awareness of chronic pain, and the affects of dealing with pain, then this can open up lots of doors for lots of people. It can encourage honest and open conversations to help people. Even if people aren’t brave enough to speak themselves, they can take comfort from knowledge that other people share.

How to Talk about chronic pain to other people

It can be difficult knowing where to start when explaining your pain to others, especially when the pain is invisible. The WikiHow webpage How to explain your chronic pain to others can be a good starting point. You don’t have to include lots of detail, but the main points to talk about include:

  • What pain you suffer and where, and what causes it. You could also go in to more detail and explain how it affects you.
  • Use a pain scale from 0-10 to explain how your pain fluctuates on different days. 0 being no pain and 10 being intense pain.
  • You could go into more detail about how the pain afffects to and what things you can and cannot do when your pain is bad.
  • You may want to take this further by trying to describe what your pain is like to help people understand.
  • Talk about your treatment and medication and how it helps, and what side effects you may suffer.

Your thoughts

So, what would you do to raise awareness of chronic pain?

What struggles do you have when talking about your pain?

What do you fear the most when chatting to someone new about your pain?

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6 thoughts on “Why it’s good to talk about chronic pain

  1. Rowena says:

    No doubt many of you will be aware of this one…trying to get on with life and be happy, show that happiness and yet also share it’s unwanted twin. I don’t want to be that complaining, negative whingeing person. At the same time, I can need assistance re my mobility and people don’t realize I need help. Secondly, I get seriously ill every year with lung complications and I’m not being a panic merchant to say that that could kill me. My lung specialist has said he’s had patients like me before who seemingly suddenly end up fighting for their lives in ICU and their friends had no idea they were so vulnerable. So, there’s an imperfect line in there. I think I’m doing okay with that at the moment, but I’ve also decided not to share about it much anymore. I don’t want people treating me like the walking ghost and holding back. My motto is very much to carpe diem seize the day.
    Best wishes,

  2. Shannon says:

    I agree, we should be talking about it more. I have arthritis (which I don’t consider chronic pain) but I am recovering from an injury (about 6 months now) and realize what it means to live with chronic pain even if it is only for a short while (I hope). How it shrouds everything and can make me into a person that I am not. I tell people I know that I never realized how encompassing it was. Thank you for sharing your story to help raise more awareness.

  3. Jill says:

    What a great post and I am sure it will help anyone who suffers from regular pain. It must be so difficult but I expect knowing that you’re not alone will help folks. . Jill

    • Alice says:

      Thanks Jill for your kind comments. A support network is vital when suffering daily pain. And I really hope my blogs help others too x

  4. Angela Noel says:

    Low back pain is the worst. I experience that too and have tried countless hours of physical therapy. I ignore the pain, I try and build strength. I run and do all the things I want to do, but always, the pain is there. No one wants to hear complaining, but being honest and more fact-oriented about our experiences seems the best way.
    My mom suffered from back pain for many years. I never really understood how being in pain can impact our tolerance for other nuisance issues. Now, I know why she had a short temper at times. It was because dealing with chronic pain takes part of our stored energy ALL THE TIME, what’s left is what we get to spend on the other stuff. I try to manage my own small challenges, while using my experience to help me gain empathy for others who’s suffering is greater. I hope many people read your story, and your honesty in how you’re managing your condition and feel inspired to greater honesty and empathy in their own lives. Thank you for sharing.

    • admin says:

      Thank you for taking the time to read and comment on my blog.
      The part above about energy really makes sense to me and is definitely something I am working on πŸ™‚
      I hope my blog can helps others – even one person will be good.
      Have a good day and thank you again.

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