Chronic pain can be an invisible illness. Although patients experiencing chronic pain may not show outward signs of being ill, there is a consistent struggle to perform many of the normal daily activities that most of us take for granted. In addition to physical limitations, patients with chronic pain often deal with mental health struggles including social isolation.
Since the start of the pandemic, many of us have experienced social isolation for the first time in our lives. For some, this was an opportunity to find the joy in more time at home, focus on hobbies, or connect with family. However, for those limited by chronic pain, loneliness can be devastating. The lack of human connection and daily routine can cause increased stress, anxiety, and depression. These stressors have a direct impact on the central and peripheral nervous systems. Increases in muscular tension and sensitivity can limit the tolerability of simple activities, resulting in fear avoidance behavior and further compounding of the pain cycle.
Trying to explain the chronic pain experience to someone without chronic pain is difficult. Strained relationships are unfortunately common for patients with chronic pain. It can be difficult for others to deal with the intensity of health care needs and associated mental strain that accompanies the painful condition. This can lead to further isolation and loneliness.
It’s important for those with chronic pain to avoid F.R.A.I.L = Feeling Rejected Alone Isolated and Lonely. Here are some helpful tips:
- Remain as physically active as you can. Find an activity you enjoy and make time to do it. It can be as simple as taking a daily walk. Even better, take a walk with a friend. Movement has a positive psychological effect, as well as a physical one.
- Commit to staying connected to your social network. Whether it is continuing to participate in a social club, church group or a weekly coffee date with a friend; find the time to nurture those relationships that are meaningful to you. Resist the urge to cancel your plans and force yourself to go. You will be glad you did.
At Haven Spine + Pain, we understand how chronic pain can impact every facet of your life. We work with you to develop a personalized treatment plan and return to a more active lifestyle.