Chronic pain affects more than the sufferer. Watching your spouse, sibling, child, or friend suffer with long-term pain is hard – but there are things you can do to help.
While you can’t take their pain away, you can offer your support and proactive help to aid their approach to pain management – and improve their mental health, too.
Here are a few ways you can help someone who suffers with long-term chronic pain.
Ask How They’re Feeling
Chronic pain sufferers often feel like they’re being a burden to their friends and family if they answer honestly to the question: “How are you?”
That means they’ll often tell you that they’re fine, even if you can see them limping from knee pain or struggling to walk from back pain.
Ask a more direct question if this helps you to receive a more honest answer. “How is your neck feeling today?” or “Are your new painkillers working better?” are examples of ways to open up the conversation about pain without your loved one feeling guilty for talking about it.
Go to Medical Appointments with Them
Consultants, physical therapists, hospital scans… there are many appointments attached to chronic pain conditions. It can become overwhelming, especially when your mind is already clouded by pain.
Offer to attend medical appointments with them to help share the load. Prepare a list of questions they – and you – want to ask the consultant. Write anything down that you think they’ll want to remember after the appointment, too.
Sometimes, having someone else at the appointment can help to get the best treatment, too. You’ll have noticed changes in the person that they might have brushed off or not considered.
For example, you’ll know if your spouse isn’t sleeping as well as they think they are, or if their pain has caused their mood to change.
Information like this can help physicians to create a more personalized treatment plan for better pain management.
Be Flexible with Your Social Plans
Pain fluctuates and this makes it difficult to make social plans. When your loved one or friend cancels last-minute, be as understanding as possible.
It could be that they had a bad night’s sleep and feel too tired to be sociable. Maybe their pain is particularly bad and they don’t want to be distracted by it when they should be enjoying your company. Whatever the reason, don’t take cancellations personally.
If your loved one cancels a plan, find out if there’s something you can do instead. Perhaps you can go to their home and cook dinner instead of going out for a meal. Or if they’re worried about traveling alone with their pain, offer to give them a lift.
Adapting a plan is a good way to show your support to your loved one. Accepting repeated cancellations risks your friend or spouse feeling isolated and depressed because of their pain. Bringing your social plans to them – when they’re feeling up to it – helps to show your support and reduces the risk of social isolation for them.
Help to Research Pain Management Techniques
Chronic pain is exhausting. It’s very easy to accept the painkillers provided by the doctors and not seek out any other pain relief options.
There is so much information out there about alternatives to prescription medications, the fact-finding can be daunting to an already-exhausted chronic pain sufferer. You can help by researching other pain management techniques that they could use in conjunction with – or alternative to – their prescription medications.
There are techniques you can do together, such as meditation or gentle exercise, to show your support as well as help to strengthen your relationship.
Other techniques require in-depth research to help arm your loved one with the information they need to make a personal choice about their pain management strategy.
For example, your spouse or friend may not know about opioid alternatives to pain management. Learning about the alternative options, such as smarter pain block technology like BiowaveGo, allows your loved one to make more informed choices about their pain management.