chronic pain and fatigue

How to Help Chronic Pain and Fatigue Sufferers

If you know someone who suffers from chronic pain and fatigue, then you probably want to help them, but figuring out how can be tricky, because so little is known about what causes chronic pain and fatigue, and how to really fully treat it.

For a sufferer, life can become bleak. Since they don’t have the energy to socialise as much as they once did, they may end up feeling isolated. They turn down invitations until people stop asking. They may struggle at work, and end up having to cut their hours or quit – which leads to a situation where they end up feeling less productive, and less useful – which can make the other symptoms harder to deal with.

Chronic pain can make it hard to do normal day to day tasks, and fatigue makes it hard to do things that might make you feel better. Doctors actually recommend gentle exercise for people suffering from fatigue, but how can someone exercise when they have near-zero energy?

Supporting Those You Care About

The biggest thing that you can offer to someone with a chronic health condition is understanding and support. Be the person who says “If you’re feeling up to it, why not come along to that show tonight?” so that the person doesn’t feel the pressure of having to turn the invitation down, but they also don’t feel left out. Sometimes they will feel good, and will be glad that their friends have not forgotten them.

chronic pain and fatigue

Be the person who says “I am going to the store before I come over, would you like me to pick anythig up?” because that is an offer of concrete help. Many people say “Let me know if you need anything”, and while the thought is usually appreciated it is too vague to really be useful, and few people feel confident enough to ask for general help.

What Not To Say

Chronic fatigue and pain are invisible disabilities, and they are unpredictable too. A person who suffers from them may be fine one moment and then too ill or tired to even face going to the kitchen to make a cup of tea the next. They face a lot of questions from people who say “You don’t look sick”, and they struggle with people saying “Yeah, I’m tired too, just pull yourself together”. It is not as simple as that, and people who offer support without judgement are appreciated more than you know.

As tempting as it can be to offer solutions, many sufferers get a lot of offers of herbal remedies, supplements, drugs, massage, etc. Remember that the sufferer already has a doctor and potentially even a specialist or a team of specialists working with them. These people will be giving them all the advice that they need. Having other people make suggestions is not always welcome, because there may be several people throwing out ideas and advice, and it gets confusing and stressful to hear conflicting things. Trust in their doctors and let them relax around you.