WebMD BlogsPain Management

How to Let People In When You Have Chronic Pain

650x350_support-chronic-pain
Peter Abaci, MD - Blogs
By Peter Abaci, MDBoard-certified anesthesiologist and pain specialistMay 22, 2018

When someone is in pain, their whole family is impacted.

I was reminded of this truth recently as visitors approached my booth at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books. I was struck by how many people were stopping by my booth on behalf of somebody in their lives who was having a difficult time with chronic pain. The most memorable was when a brother and sister, probably about 5 and 6 years old, dragged their mom over to talk to me about their grandfather, who was struggling with neck pain. At their young age, they shared powerful insights about their grandfather’s condition, not to mention a strong sense of wanting to help.

Though you might feel isolated in the midst of a pain experience, those around you are likely deeply impacted by what you are going through – and there’s a good chance that they really want to be with you in this experience. They may just not know how to get in.

Here are a few ways you can share your pain experience with people who care about you:

  • Education: The better others understand your health challenges, the more helpful they can be. I recommend you share some of the books or articles that you have found helpful, and consider inviting them to join you at some of your doctor visits or physical therapy sessions.
  • Recreation: To build better bonds, try to have some fun together. If there are activities, sports, or hobbies that you no longer do, now is the time to find new pursuits that you can share with others. Whether it is going on walks together or hosting a movie night, plan activities that are joyful for everyone. Try to use this as an opportunity for growth.
  • Communication: It is easy to feel closed-off from others and to not want to engage when you don’t feel well, but it’s important to make an effort to create dialogue between you and your family. If you feel a strong instinct toward isolation, you may need to create a deliberate plan to combat it – consider scheduling a specific time to chat. Of course, it’s reasonable to spend some of the time talking about your own challenges, but to truly connect with others, you’ll want to talk about things going on with other members of your circle as well.
  • Expression: Nonverbal communication plays an important role in how we connect with others, especially when we are in pain. Facial expressions and grimacing can say a lot without uttering a word, and how we say things, or the tone that we use, also influences how others receive our message. I am not recommending that you try to hide how you feel or present yourself in a way that is false, but it might be worth taking stock of your nonverbal communication patterns to see if any subtle changes might make it clearer to the people around you that you are open to  connecting with them. Eye contact can boost connectivity during a conversation, and a smile can go a long way to letting someone know how much you appreciate them.

Hopefully, adding a few of these strategies can help open the door to connection, and possibly even strengthen your relationships.

WebMD Blog
© 2018 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.
Blog Topics:
About the Author
Peter Abaci, MD

Peter Abaci, MD, is one of the world’s leading experts on pain and integrative medicine and serves as the co-founder and Medical Director for the Bay Area Pain & Wellness Center. He is a dedicated healer, author, and radio celebrity. To learn more about Dr. Abaci, visit his website.

More from the Pain Management Blog

  • woman standing in the sun eyes closed

    Why You Need Hope

    “Is there hope?” is a question I hear often. One of my patients struggling with a low back injury recently mentioned that ...

  • gut microbiome

    Can Your Gut Health Impact Your Pain?

    You may have noticed that at any given moment your pain levels can fluctuate based on many different variables, including the weather ...

View all posts on Pain Management

Latest Blog Posts on WebMD

View all blog posts

Important: The opinions expressed in WebMD Blogs are solely those of the User, who may or may not have medical or scientific training. These opinions do not represent the opinions of WebMD. Blogs are not reviewed by a WebMD physician or any member of the WebMD editorial staff for accuracy, balance, objectivity, or any other reason except for compliance with our Terms and Conditions. Some of these opinions may contain information about treatments or uses of drug products that have not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. WebMD does not endorse any specific product, service or treatment.

Do not consider WebMD Blogs as medical advice. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your doctor or other qualified healthcare provider because of something you have read on WebMD. You should always speak with your doctor before you start, stop, or change any prescribed part of your care plan or treatment. WebMD understands that reading individual, real-life experiences can be a helpful resource, but it is never a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from a qualified health care provider. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or dial 911 immediately.

Read More