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For Caretakers

The Impact of Chronic Pain on Relationships

Since so many people are living with chronic pain, it makes sense that chronic pain influences the lives of many spouses and family members.

Chronic pain can put significant additional social and financial stresses on families. However, it can also be an opportunity for families to become closer through understanding that chronic pain is an illness requiring continuous management similar to diabetes and high blood pressure. Through compassion and shared goals you can help your loved one with chronic pain heal.

If your spouse or family member is struggling with chronic pain, there are some key things you can do to help.

  1. Be informed - Educate yourself about what chronic pain is and what it isn’t.
  2. Listen carefully - Stay positive and challenge them to do the same.
  3. Be supportive - Conflict, stress, and criticism all have been shown to increase pain.
  4. Be a good listener - Your partner needs you to understand what they are experiencing because they may not understand it.
  5. Don't make it a catastrophe - This will increase both pain and disability. Instead, focus less on what your loved one can’t do and more on what they can do.
  6. Recognize and praise them for their effort, continuing to try is essential.
  7. Keep them engaged in activities and community and remind your loved one of their purpose.
  8. Work together relentlessly to succeed together.
  9. Help your loved one find and follow through with a practitioner who fully understands the biopsychosocial aspects of this condition.