Chronic Pain is the worst unseen enemy we can encounter. It implicates every single facet of a person’s life. Once settled, it does not leave the patient alone. Where ever they go or what ever they do, the pain is there to torture them. It never stops, or if it does, it will return with revenge! Ongoing suffering wears the patients down. The tolerance for problems and stress diminishes over time as the pain itself becomes a major stress factor.
Many chronic pain patients become irritable and are sensitive to sound, light or any other sensory impulse that does not bother others. This separates them from family members, alienate them from friends and social groups they belong to. They don’t enjoy activities the way others do, even when they push themselves to participate in them. Most often than naught, their symptoms become worse when they participate in some group activities. Because of this, next time that they are invited into any activity, anxiety sets in as they expect more pain.
Disappointments, depression, anxiety, automatic negative thinking and lack of any enjoyment become dominant. Activities are avoided in the fear of more pain and this leads into less energy due to inactivity. This becomes a vicious cycle.
Group activity avoidance causes loneliness and that in turn induces more depression. With all this negativity one cannot function. The ability to work and manage activities of daily life, including managing finances become more difficult day by day. Financial worries, anxiety and depression along with pain destroy any restful sleep. Lack of sleep makes healing problematic. Many patients resort to sleeping pills, or even worse alcohol to sleep. These chemical substances mostly do not allow the patient to fall into deep sleep. Many families are destroyed as a result of this. All of these factors are interconnected and feed into each other. Each factor plays in to worsening of the other and the sum of these lead into more pain and suffering.
These points are not comprehensive in any way and are just a quick glimpse at a chronic pain patient’s life.
How can this patient be properly treated if we only focus on pain as a symptom and not look at the whole patient?