More than 100 million Americans live with chronic pain. Injuries and various conditions can cause problems which take a toll on sufferers and the ones they love. It’s natural to feel helpless when someone you care about is dealing with chronic pain, but you can assist them in several ways.
Do Your Research
Chronic pain conditions are often misunderstood because sufferers don’t look unwell. For a long time even healthcare practitioners believed fibromyalgia was strictly a psychological condition rather than a physical one. If you know someone with fibromyalgia, arthritis, or another condition associated with chronic pain, take time to learn what this entails. When you know how a condition affects your friend, you can be prepared for the symptoms they may have and be more sensitive to what they’re going through. Look for signs your friend is suffering and suggest postponing social engagements or scaling your plans back when their symptoms flare.
Support Good Dietary Choices
Eating an anti-inflammatory diet high in phytochemical-rich fruits and vegetables and whole grains has been proven to help reduce the symptoms of chronic pain conditions. However, choosing the right foods can be difficult when people in pain don’t feel supported. If you’re living with someone with chronic pain, educate yourself about the foods they should be eating and ensure those are on your shopping list. Don’t bring home foods which can trigger pain, as these will only tempt your loved one.
Even if you don’t live with the person with chronic pain, you can still be supportive of their choices. Cook them an anti-inflammatory dish, like a vegetable pasta bake made with spelt or buckwheat pasta, next time you’re entertaining. When you’re eating out together, choose restaurants that give your friend plenty of anti-inflammatory options.
Let the Person With Pain Set the Pace
Doing simple things like shopping for a new outfit or running errands can be difficult for people with chronic pain. Be conscious of the pain your friend might be in and let them set the pace when you’re out together. It might take you a little longer to get around, but slowing down will give you more time to bond with your friend and reduce the toll on their body.
Take a Proactive Approach to Helping
So many people ask their friends to speak up if they ever need a hand. This puts the burden on the person needing help, which can place them in an uncomfortable position. Many people with chronic pain will be too proud to ever ask for your help, so if you really want to assist them, you’ll need to be more proactive.
Household chores can mount when chronic pain flares, so visit your friend in pain with cleaning products in hand and ask them where to start. You could also visit with casseroles that can be reheated for several easy meals. Just remember to use anti-inflammatory ingredients like those outlined above!
You might not be able to take the pain away, but your support can be so important to someone dealing with chronic pain.