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How Chronic Pain Affects Relationships

Living with chronic pain syndrome puts a strain on everyday life, as well as relationships with your loved ones. Find tips on how to keep relatives close in this blog.


Chronic pain syndrome has the ability to affect anyone at any time, causing a wide range of symptoms, such as fatigue, mental fogginess and, of course, extreme pain. As a condition, chronic pain has a ripple effect; not only does it have the power to cause disruptions to your everyday life, it can also affect the relationships you have with your loved ones, as a result of the physical limitations and emotional strains caused by chronic pain.

At Brian Barr, we specialise in handling chronic pain compensation claims and, as a result, understand the condition and know all too well how it negatively impacts the lives of many. In this blog, we discuss how chronic pain has the ability to affect the relationships you have with friends and family, and offer advice to enable you to better cope and hold onto those relationships with both hands.

The relationships you have with your loved ones will largely depend on how much pain you’re experiencing and how you relate to each specific person:

Spouses: Partners of those who suffer with chronic pain syndrome face a number of challenges. As well as worrying about the pain you feel constantly, it’s likely that your spouse will feel completely helpless as they are unable to help in any way. The pain you feel will limit what you can do; intimate relations with your spouse will be difficult and, due to mobility problems, you’re less likely going to be able to help with housework, resulting in your partner carrying most of the workload. In addition, chronic pain isn’t cheap; soon, the cost of treatments, specialist equipment, and medication will start to add up, resulting in money worries for the both of you. However, if your condition is as a result of an accident or injury, chronic pain compensation can help to reimburse you for these extra costs.

Children: Seeing your parent in pain is difficult for any child, particularly for those who witness their parents in pain everyday as a result of chronic pain syndrome. Young children may be confused as to what is happening and, if you’re having a bad day and understandably have a short temper, they’re likely going to take things personally, which may lead to them believing that they are the problem. On the flipside, they may feel angry that you’re no longer as available as you once were before chronic pain affected your life.

Friends: As a chronic pain sufferer, you will have good and bad days. Sometimes, your symptoms are too painful and uncomfortable to handle, leaving you with no choice but to cancel plans you’ve made with friends. Unless your friends are also chronic pain sufferers too, their understanding of the condition will likely be poor, just like so many. Due to them not being able to relate to the pain you go through everyday, they may take your cancellations personally and will feel like they’ve been snubbed. In addition, chronic pain has the ability to change the way you are, whether it be by affecting your confidence or changing your outlook on life. As a result, the friendship you once had with a friend may no longer be the same.

Now that we’ve gone through the ways in which chronic pain has the ability to affect your relationships with the various people in your life, it’s now time to provide tips on how you can better manage those relationships and ensure they aren’t defeated by chronic pain.

Communication is key. Don’t keep everything bottled up and keep communication strong between you and your loved ones. If you’re having a bad day, tell them. If you’re having a good day, also tell them. Staying silent will detach you from them, making you feel both isolated and alone. When communicating, it’s important to remember to keep a balance and bear in mind that your conversations will differ depending on who you’re conversing with; for example, when talking through things with your children, you’ll need to avoid talking about pain and discomfort, so they don’t feel down and depressed.

Stay close to your spouse. In addition to communication, maintaining a physical relationship with your spouse is also important. Just because you have chronic pain syndrome, it doesn’t mean you can’t stay intimate. Plan for encounters with your partner around your medication schedule and monitor daily pain to estimate when your pain levels will be lowest.

Make others feel useful. Unfortunately, chronic pain is incurable, which makes it difficult for loved ones, particularly spouses, who feel helpless and unable to help. Sometimes, asking for help from your family or friends is a great way to make them feel of use and closer to you. If you’re experiencing pain, ask your partner to help you relax. If you’re struggling with an activity, ask your friends to help you. By helping you, they will feel accomplished.

Don’t cancel, compromise. Instead of cancelling plans with family or friends, try to compromise as much as possible. If you’re experiencing a flare-up, invite whoever you’ve made plans with to the comfort of your own home, so you can feel as relaxed as possible in their company. Alternatively, if you think you could manage some level of activity with the pain you’re feeling in that moment, don’t cancel plans and don’t let chronic pain win. Instead, follow through with your plans and get yourself out there; after all, it’s not healthy to keep cooped up all the time.

Do as much as you can. Similarly to the above, try to help out as much as you can at home. Your spouse is there to look after you through sickness and in health, however, they would appreciate the help from time to time. When you feel able, offer to help them with simple tasks and try to stay active. If your family members can see that you’re making an effort, they will appreciate it, even if you can’t be of much help.

All in all, chronic pain is extremely frustrating, however, communicating with family and friends is key to keeping them close. Although chronic pain will directly affect you as a sufferer, it will also have a huge impact on the lives of your family and friends and you must remember that. Without them, you’d feel alone, so remember to be understanding of what they’re going through too.

We do not endorse any research, studies or sources mentioned within our blogs and comments. Furthermore, we do not endorse any medical advice provided, and would strongly recommend anyone seeking medical advice to contact their local healthcare provider.

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