When the pain doesn't stop-Support for chronic pain sufferers

When the pain doesn't stop - Support for chronic pain sufferers

By Wendy Walsdorf, MFT

Everyone likes to hear "you look good", but for those in chronic pain it carries a mixed message. Chronic pain sufferers may appear well but suffer silently; often causing others to ignore the problem or at worst, doubt that there is in fact a problem at all.

The frustration that can accompany chronic pain and illness can lead to depression, anxiety and isolation if left untreated. Chronic pain is widespread, touching a large percentage of the population. The conditions that cause pain include but are not limited to, arthritis, migraine headaches, back pain, fibromyalgia and crohne's disease. The stress pain puts on the body and mind can make it difficult for employees to contribute fully to the workplace. The problem is often denied. Fear of job loss, being perceived as weak and shame contribute to the underreporting of this problem. Chronic pain and illness affects home life as well. Families have to adjust to new roles and expectations. It is not unusual to see significant others following a similar emotional cycle as the person in pain.

Pain is subjective; everyone experiences it differently depending on his or her own history, coping styles and support system; but if ever there was a "better time" to struggle with pain it is now. Researchers are discovering evidence of the mind/body connection and complimentary approaches to healing are greatly improving the quality of life.

There are numerous pain specialists and clinics emerging as the impact of chronic pain on individuals is acknowledged. Hospitals are now required to ask patients their level of pain and treat accordingly. Books and articles are widely available, as people live longer and the amount of people in chronic pain increases.

There is hope. People in pain can be taught to manage their symptoms and become an active participant in their own health and wellness. Understanding the triggers and emotions related to pain and illness, along with techniques to relieve the symptoms can help break the pain cycle. In an effort to assist UCLA employees, the SFCC offers a six-week educational support group whose goal it is to help pain sufferers increase their level of functioning and improve their quality of life.

For more information contact Wendy Walsdorf, MFT at (310) 794-0245.