Beating the Stigma of Chronic Pain: The Most Effective Strategies

Have you ever felt judged by others because of your chronic pain? The stigma of living with pain can be just as difficult as the physical effects. The fact that chronic pain is often invisible makes this even more challenging.

You may look perfectly fine, but only you know exactly how you’re hurting on the inside. People may not believe how much pain you’re in. They may think you complain too much or make excuses for missing work, that you rest too much, take too many medications or visit the doctor too often. This disapproval from family, friends, coworkers or even some healthcare providers, can have a devastating effect on your relationships and your ability to cope with your pain.

Just as there are many different solutions for dealing with physical pain, there are steps you can take to deal with the emotional pain of feeling judged by others:

  • Get support from those who do understand. There are many online support groups where you can connect with other people who know what you’re going through. Ask your CRPA provider for recommendations.
  • Adjust your response to those who dismiss your pain or judge you. You may feel like you need to detail all the reasons why your pain isn’t your fault and justify the way you deal with it… but this doesn’t solve being stigmatized. In fact, it may drag you into an unproductive, emotional conflict that ends up making you feel even worse.

Instead, with practice, you can choose to calmly acknowledge your situation from your perspective (the only one that matters, since we’re talking about you and your health). You can make it clear that you’re doing exactly what you need to do to take care of yourself right now. You can let that person know that while you didn’t choose to be in pain, you are coping with it responsibly by taking charge of your health. Think about all the ways you’ve changed your lifestyle to be healthier and to learn how to manage your pain. Your condition is a fact of your life, but you are working to deal with it every day. Let these thoughts empower you and give you strength when you encounter unsupportive or judgmental people.

Be sure to talk with your CRPA provider if you’re having trouble with this issue. We understand the social stigma of pain and how it can affect you. We’re here to listen, offer our support and make sure you get the help you need. Call us today! 319-540-8251.