In life we are connected to many things at different times. Our most meaningful connections come from our friends and family. Unfortunately, for those with chronic pain, these connections can feel damaged. Pain can make you feel isolated or lonely. This can be both real or perceived and only becomes more common with age, just as rates of chronic pain increase with age.
A sense of connection is vital for those suffering from chronic pain. Being in a constant, or near constant state of pain decreases opportunities for social interaction and involvement in group activities. Often this can be due to a lack of understanding from friends and family as to how pain impacts an individual’s life and function. It can be very challenging to understand how it feels to live with chronic pain if you have not experienced it. This loss of understanding leads to feelings of isolation: from the community, from friends, and even from family. People with chronic pain often feel as though they should just ‘get over it’ or ‘push through the pain’. However, this often only leads to an increase in pain and further isolation.
This feeling of disconnect is also common when seeking professional help. Its not uncommon for people with chronic pain to feel ostracised or dismissed by the medical community. For effective treatment of chronic pain conditions and disorders health professionals need to understand the importance of connection in treatment. That is connection between themselves and the person in pain, as well as connection to other members of the healthcare team; always with the patient at the centre, calling the shots.
Another level of connection that is important when talking about chronic pain is a person’s connection to their own body and psychological state. Its important to develop an understanding of our own pattern of pain. Knowing exactly much you can do without causing a flare up of pain is a vital part rebuilding connection with others. It can also help to provide you to build your ability to own your pain, rather than letting your pain own you. People suffering from chronic pain can feel like they have no control over their lives. Gaining a better connection and understanding of their pain can help to return a sense of control to those who may have felt that they had none.
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