We all know what it’s like to feel pain but what about living with it every day? 1 in 5 Australians suffer from this invisible, misunderstood pain that affects every aspect of life and comes in many forms. National Pain Week aims to increase awareness and support for those suffering from chronic pain.

What can I do if I have chronic pain?

Lots. It may be difficult but it’s not hopeless. Our understanding of pain has come a long way in the last decade and we are still learning. We know that pain is complex and therefore requires a complex, holistic management plan with GPs, Physios and others working together. We know that the right kind of exercise, nutrition, medical support and help with mental health are all important. One of the most powerful things though is understanding your pain. We know that if you understand your pain, you can regain control over it. If you don’t understand it, talk to your Physio or GP. You may need to find the right one with a good understanding and training in chronic pain but there are more and more out there.

I don’t have pain but can I do anything to help?

Yes. Aside from the usual things like donations to research organisations, you can make a big difference, even if it might not feel like much. One of the hardest things for people with chronic pain is the isolation and misunderstanding from people around them. Firstly, don’t pretend to understand what it is like to live with pain every day, we just can’t understand it. It also doesn’t help to tell them to push through it, that it will get better soon or give advice about things they should or shouldn’t do – almost guaranteed that they have heard it all before. You can imagine that if you had to get up every morning on 2 hours sleep and run a marathon, it would affect your mental health and ability to function. Patience, forgiveness and flexibility go a long way towards maintaining relationships and they are as precious as gold. You won’t get it right every time but keep learning with everyone else. And finally, if you are supporting someone with chronic pain, don’t forget to look after yourself.

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