Caring For a Loved One with Chronic Pain
Over 100 million people in the US and Canada currently suffer from physically and emotionally debilitating chronic pain. Dr. Vladimir Djuric, of the Centre for Pain Care (CPC), offers advice on how to help a loved one experiencing chronic pain cope through the hardship and access the specialized treatment they need.
If you or a loved one suffers from debilitating chronic pain, you know all too well the frustration and desperation that goes along with that pain. Today, with new and progressive treatments available from pain specialists, chronic pain symptoms can often be substantially alleviated. A support system of friends and family frequently plays a significant role in connecting a chronic pain sufferer with medical treatment, and providing everyday help and comfort, according to Dr. Vladimir Djuric, of the CPC.
Chronic pain is defined as any pain lasting more than three months. One in three Americans and one in five Canadians suffer from chronic pain, making it more prevalent than even diabetes, heart disease, or cancer. Chronic pain can affect the back, neck, legs, or joints. It can take the form of severe headaches or other afflictions. Seniors are often the hardest hit.
Chronic pain can sideline those suffering, making everyday activities like walking, standing, or even sitting for an extended period difficult. The pain frequently does not subside, even at bedtime. Sufferers often cannot enjoy simple leisure activities, finding it difficult to work and causing many to lose jobs and insurance benefits due to frequent sick leave. It’s no wonder then that chronic pain is also linked to depression and a higher risk of suicide.
“I wasn’t going to make it without pain relief. It was especially hard during Christmas,” says Elizabeth (name changed to protect patient privacy) age 54, who suffers from degenerative disk disease which causes her chronic back pain.
“If you haven’t experienced chronic pain, you can’t possibly imagine what it’s like to live with such a condition,” says Dr. Djuric. “Patients tend to experience more frequent, prolonged and intense episodes of pain, that at some point just ceases going away.”
Helping a Loved One With Chronic Pain
If you or a loved one suffer from chronic pain, having a strong support system can make a big difference. Here are some ways to offer assistance:
Chronic pain patients need encouragement. Take the time to ask your loved one about how their pain is affecting their lives, physically and emotionally. A listening ear can often provide comfort.
Lend a Hand
Chronic pain patients may need practical help like transportation to and from the grocery store, bank or doctor’s office. Some chronic pain sufferers have physical impairments that restrict their mobility. It can be very useful for them to have someone who can assist them in doing everyday activities that most of us take for granted.
Learn About Chronic Pain
Many people who have chronic pain have difficulty doing research about their condition because their pain interrupts their concentration. You can help them with the research process by sending links to helpful websites or offering to research the topic for them.
It is easy for people suffering from chronic pain to get stuck in a downward spiral of negativity. For patients who have tried many types of treatment without success, this is not solely because of the pain. They may have decided that they will be in pain for the rest of their lives with no hope of recovery. It’s important to be positive and encourage them to continue to search for help.
Recommend Seeking a Second Opinion
There continue to be discoveries and new treatment options that can offer pain relief. Encourage your loved one to seek a second opinion for alternative pain management methods or ask their family doctor for a referral to a pain management professional who specializes in the diagnosis and interventional treatment of chronic pain that can improve their quality of life.
Dr. Vladimir Djuric is board-certified in both Pain Medicine and Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, and is also a certified Independent Medical Examiner.
The Centre for Pain Care is a Toronto-based multi-disciplinary medical treatment centre specializing in the management and treatment of chronic pain of the head, neck, face and back. In addition to interventional treatments, they offer pain medication therapy and psychological support. The Centre’s team of over 25 specialist physicians, anesthetists and nurses helps patients with pain intervention techniques that support a path to wellness.