Chronic Pain Support GroupsQUESTION: Chronic pain support groups - How can they help?ANSWER:
I have suffered with chronic pain for last 5 or 6 years. When I first experienced the pain, I was frightened. I thought of all kinds of horrible diseases I might have. Not only is it painful but it can be emotionally and spiritually damaging.
It is difficult to cope when doctors can not find an illness or reason for your pain. Doctors tend to not take it seriously unless they can put a label to it. Without a name or disease associated with the pain, getting treatment is difficult. That is what happened to me. Without a disease, doctors didn't want to attempt to treat it. All they knew to do was prescribe pain killers, which only took the pain away temporarily. They do nothing to cure or remove the cause of the pain.
After many doctor visits I was finally diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. There is no cure for Fibromyalgia, but at least now doctors were willing to try to help me with my pain. While I waited for results of lab work and the doctors to decide what medicines to prescribe, I needed some help. I found help when I started attending support groups.
I found that attending a support group put me in touch with people who knew what I was going through. Here were people who understood what it was like to experience excruciating pain and fear. They didn't tell me it was all in my head, or tell me to just pull myself together and go on. They could verify that what I felt was real. They felt the same way I did.
The people in my chronic pain support group gave me hope and the ability to keep on looking for a cure or relief from the pain. Emotional support enabled me to not give up on my situation. I have known people to commit suicide because of their pain. The pain can grow from not only physical pain, but also emotional and spiritual hurt. A majority of the time, people suffering from chronic pain do not have a cure to look forward to. Often the chronic pain is from an illness that has no cure and it is something you are told you will have to live with. A support group for chronic pain can help you with daily living problems.
A doctor who can treat you with proper medication will usually prescribe pain killers. They may help you physically for short periods of time, but they do little to help with emotional and spiritual pain. Side effects of these medications are huge. Sometimes it takes years to find one you can tolerate. Pain killers are often addicting and when taken over long periods of time can be dangerous.
Living with chronic pain changes your life. You no longer can do the same activities you did before. You often have to give up your job and your finances change. You may end up on disability. Your spouse, children, and other family members may not understand and start to detach from you. The worse case scenario is you may find yourself alone. Friends you used to associate with don't come around because you can't do the same activities with them anymore.
A support group can help you with all of this. It gives you new friends and people to spend time with. Giving advice is not something others should do in a good support group but you can listen to what is helping other people and see if it works for you. An important thing I learned from chronic pain support groups is to turn my pain and fear over to God. Once I learned to stop trying to control everything in my life, my pain included, the better my life became.
You may ask, "How do I find a support group for pain?" Most large cities have them. Check the family life section of your newspaper. Generally you will find a listing for support groups in your area. If you don't see one for chronic pain, check with your doctors or call local hospitals and clinics. If you don't have a support group for chronic pain, try attending one that deals with similar problems, such as a disease or depression.
If you can't find one that will work for you, try starting your own group like I did. Talk to people who lead other support groups. You will need to find a location for your group to meet, then advertise, and show up. Before you know it you will have other people who suffer from chronic pain to talk to and you will be on the path to a happier, more healthful way of life. You will be amazed at how many people suffer from the same pain you do. You will make new friends and help others.