06 Feb Combatting the stigma of chronic pain
A chronic pain diagnosis is life-changing and difficult to understand. Because of this, the added stigma of a chronic pain diagnosis makes it much more difficult and frustrating. Whether it is a lack of belief or judgements from others, chronic pain stigma is harmful to those who experience chronic pain.
Common stigmas associated with chronic pain
Often, people who have not experienced chronic pain may not understand the diagnosis. This can lead to others believing that chronic pain is ‘all in a patient’s head.’ By not believing the physical symptoms of pain, the stigma that chronic pain is only psychological is spread.
Additionally, people who have not experienced chronic pain may judge the diagnosis. This comes from an ignorance about what crhonic pain is and the way it affects many Americans daily. Believing that chronic pain patients’ symptoms are somehow their fault is a very harmful mindset.
How do we combat chronic pain stigma?
Talking to people and helping them understand your diagnosis is a good way to combat the stigma associated with chronic pain. What many people lack is a general understanding of chronic pain. So, explaining what chronic pain is and the ways it affects your life is an important step to overcoming judgement.
It’s also important to help people understand that chronic pain is a medical condition. Illnesses that people cannot physically see are often misunderstood. However, it’s important for others to understand that chronic pain is a medical diagnosis and not just psychological. While there are certainly emotional and psychological aspects of a chronic pain diagnosis, explaining the physical pain can help change understanding of chronic pain.
Working to end the judgement of chronic pain is important and necessary. Understanding the physical, emotional and psychological symptoms those with chronic pain experience is a great start. However, it’s important to remember that stress can increase chronic pain symptoms. So, if you are experiencing stress related to others’ reaction to your diagnosis, it might be a good idea to talk to a behavioral health specialist.