Chronic pain is a debilitating condition at any age, but we naturally slow down a bit as we get older, so dealing with constant pain at a young age isn’t something most can relate to very easily. People in their 20’s and 30’s often feel misunderstood or that they have to hide their condition from friends.
Recently, the Huffington Post ran an article titled “15 Things No One Tells You About Chronic Pain As A 20-Something.” The article makes some good points, and we decided to take the five most relevant points and expand on them in today’s blog.
5 Things They Don’t Tell You
Here’s a look at five things most people don’t know about dealing with chronic pain in your 20’s and 30’s.
1. The idea of going out and maintaining a “normal” 20-something social life is laughable.
Chronic pain takes a lot out of you, so some people just won’t understand why you don’t want to paint the town for hours or go hiking on a Saturday afternoon. You want to go out and hang with friends, but sometimes your body just isn’t up for it, or you’re afraid of a flare up in a group setting. Sometimes people take your decision not to attend a function as a personal slight, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. You’d love to join, but your pain makes it nearly impossible.
2. Some people are really open and kind about your chronic pain. Some are just the worst.
You likely have a close circle of family and friends who truly understand your condition and how it affects you, but you also probably know some people who are less than empathetic about your condition. They say things like “Oh you’re just faking it,” “You’re lazy” or worse “You’re just doing it for attention.” It’s best to just ignore these people and distance yourself from them if possible. They simply can’t comprehend what you’re going through, and their negativity only makes things worse.
3. There are good days and bad days.
Some days you feel like you can conquer the world, other days it’s an accomplishment if you can just get out of bed. You’ll have good days and bad days, just like everyone else, but what a lot of people don’t understand is that you never know what type of day it’s going to be. You can’t plan around chronic pain. Sometimes it flares up at the worst time, while other times your pain subsides at the perfect time.
4. Chronic pain is a full-time job.
Chronic pain fills up your daily and monthly calendars. Between seeing doctors and specialists, refilling your medications and getting in your daily exercise and physical therapy, chronic pain is a full-time job. When you throw in other activities, like work and social activities, you can start to feel overwhelmed by the condition. Be sure to make time for yourself, even if that just means marking off an hour to watch a few episodes of your favorite TV show on Netflix.
5. Get a Pain Guru.
Lastly, it’s important to find a professional who understands your condition and who helps you TREAT the symptoms, not just manage them. Any old doctor can prescribe painkillers and call it a day, but you need to find a specialist who believes in you, takes time to understand the condition and who works to help you get better.
Thomas Cohn, MD
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