What are some things you should never say to a person with chronic pain? (Part I)

Contributed by: Three subscribers to the painACTION newsletter
Reviewed by: Evelyn Corsini, MSW, March 2009


Here are three responses to a question in the painACTION Newsletter on March 23, 2009.

Response #1

Never say, “I know how you feel.” Each person’s reaction to pain is affected by so many variables: family/friend support, pain tolerance, ability to cope while meeting obligations and responsibilities, having a support group and an understanding and supportive pain management physician.

Response #2

Never, in any way, indicate that you think the pain is “all in their head”. It is partially in their head in a very REAL way as the nerve signals are misinterpreting information from the body. However, pain is NOT something most people would ever make up. If you want to know what it feel like, go sit on a cactus and you’ll get an idea. Never tell a chronic patient that certain treatments will cure them.

Response #3

Never ask, “How are you?” People don’t really want the truthful answer and need to develop an alternate, positive greeting.

I’m glad to see you” is a kinder, generic but positive greeting. People can develop more personal, positive greetings for personal friends.

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