VIDEO: 10 things not to say to a chronic pain sufferer

Almost all those in discomfort never discuss their 'invisible illness'

27th September, 2016
A quarter of sufferers avoid speaking about their pain. Pic: Pixabay

The majority of those suffering from chronic pain are unable to talk about their agony, a survey reveals.

A huge 89 per cent of people living with chronic pain have admitted they avoid discussing it with family and friends fearing the problem is boring to listen to.

Around 30 per cent of those quizzed said they were not taken seriously when they raised the issue.

To mark World Day Against Pain on Saturday, the ‘mypainfeelslike…’ campaign has compiled a list of 10 things not to say to someone with chronic pain.


One quarter of sufferers also felt that colleagues, employers and doctors were unsympathetic.

So if you ever find yourself coming out with the following clichés, the advice is to bite your tongue:

1. But you look so well

2. Do you still have pain?

3. You depend too much on your medication

4. It’s all in your head

5. Have you seen a psychiatrist?

6. It’s just a matter of time

7. You should learn to live with it

8. You should try and get out more

9. You should feel better by now

10. Everyone has pain

Orla Spencer is a clinical psychologist who runs the Ulysses pain management clinic at Tallaght Hospital in Dubli n.

Spencer told "Living with persistent pain can severely impact someone’s life. It is an invisible illness that compromises both quality of life and emotional health."

Spencer said the clinic has helped 700 people improve function, mood and exercise capacity among those attending its four-week cognitive behavioural therapy programme.

"We help turn the volume down on pain by teaching adaptive coping skills," says Spencer.

"There are a symphony of behaviours which can help. Medication has a place if it proves useful, along with mindfulness practice and paced general activity and exercise."

Depression rates for those with chronic pain can run between 30 and 70 per cent. And this is where support from family is key.

"A support person can be a coach and motivator, to remind the sufferer to pace themselves and to support positive behaviour change.

"Once family members are educated in the pain management strategy, they then feel more helpful and they can help the sufferer to tolerate frustration."

Chair of Chronic Pain Ireland John Lindsay said: "Many people can feel isolated with their pain and think that others do not understand the impact it has on their life.

"They often struggle to explain the effect is having on their lives. While intentions are good, comments can be hurtful and inappropriate. Moreover, they can often silence someone at a time when they need support."

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