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Chronic Pain - It Runs In The Family


When an individual is affected with chronic pain, it really isnít just her health concern.  Chronic pain is now part of the family.  When a person experiences unrelenting pain on a daily basis, the entire family is likely to suffer.


The anxiety, stress and very often depression that accompanies the chronic pain affects family members as well who desperately want to offer assistance Ė but are instead helpless to do a thing! But the sense of helplessness is only the beginning.  Very often the healthy members of the family are overworked due to the chronic pain of the individual.  Now in addition to their own duties, they assume the household chores the 

person living with pain can no longer perform.  But more than that they have even more additional duties:  usually revolving around helping the person in pain.


Itís no wonder that family members in general very often have little time or energy for their friends, hobbies or interests.  Itís also not at all surprising that as expenses rise Ė as they often do in these situations Ė the family income correspondingly shrinks.


Unfortunately, when doctors treat the patient with chronic pain, other family members are rarely considered.  This, at least, is the contention of Dennis C. Turk.  Heís a pain management researcher at the University of Washington in Seattle.  Yet, he explains, in a study he conducted, ďwe found that family members were up to four times more depressed than the patients.Ē


Chronic pain experts say that this doesnít necessarily have to be the case.  Thereís plenty that family and friends can do to improve this situation.


The most important step is to recognize that chronic pain is not an isolated problem.  It may be that only one individual is feeling the direct pain, but the entire family feels the residual effects.


Family members need to learn as much about the condition affecting their loved one as possible. While totally getting rid of the pain may be impossible, there are always ways to help reduce it


But beyond that, family members themselves need to realize how theyíre affected by this long-term situation.


First, they need to acknowledge their feelings.  And there are plenty of feelings going through your mind right now.  Itís not good to pretend they donít exist or even that theyíre inappropriate to have.


First, you may feel guilty about your inability to relieve your loved oneís discomfort.  You may also be anxious about financial problems.  These are only a few of the emotions youíre going through.


Donít be surprised if you feel resentment toward the individual with pain.  This is much more common than you would ever think.  Very often a spouse is not only burdened with more responsibilities, the loss of a personal social life, but is also deprived of the sexual intimacy the couple once enjoyed.


You also need to help your loved one with chronic pain stay involved. Your loved one is now being cared for by others, heís losing a very real aspect of his independence.  This very often leads to feelings of worthlessness and even guilt.  He is keenly aware that heís not contributing to the familyís welfare.


Thatís why itís very important that you encourage him to participate in family plans and activities as much as possible.  You also need to encourage him to carry out as many of his household chores as possible.  True, he may not be able to do what he used to around the house, but perhaps he can perform other duties.  Help him to discover what he can do.


Communication is the key.  Dr. Turk explains that family members to create an ďopen, two-way communicationĒ pathway.  Itís especially important that those caring for the individual with chronic pain that they know in what ways specifically they can be of aid to the person.  Similarly, they also need to know what might unintentionally hurt the individual.


Donít forget to take good care of yourself. As the spouse, donít try to do it all yourself.  Older children can be given chores.  They can help clean the house.  They may also be able to prepare some of the meals (even if they are only sandwiches some days).


Take your neighbors and friends up on their offers of help.  This is no time to be stoic.  If someone offers to take your loved one to a medical appointment, accept.  It eases that burden on you and may even give you an hour of unexpected quiet and relaxation.


But above all donít neglect your own physical well being.  Eat regularly.  Make sure you get enough sleep.  Get regular exercise.  You canít take care of someone else if youíre ailing yourself.



Note: Some statements in this article may not be approved by the FDA. This article is for informational purposes only and should not be taken as professional medical advice.

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