Guest blogger, Millie Fuller, shares her thoughts on Chronic Pain through the lens of brain injury and mental ill-health.

Chronic pain impacts 1.5bn people around the world. It’s seen in many conditions and diseases. E.g., Fibromyalgia and Arthritis. It's also common in brain injuries – strokes, tumours, and trauma.

We all know how pain feels, but its toll on mental health’s often overlooked.

Living with Chronic Pain

The diagnostic criterion for pain to be considered chronic is that it has been ongoing for 3+ months. Someone’s pain can be hidden but it often affects their day-to-day activities and relationships. Unlike sharp pain, chronic pain is constant. And, despite it being so widespread, it’s misunderstood.

The Impact on Mental Health

Chronic pain goes beyond the physical feeling. It can cause anxiety and depression. Not being able to do things like before exacerbates the issue and make people feel hopeless. It can also extend to relationships and social connections, making people more isolated.

It’s not surprising that those with chronic pain are 4x more likely to have anxiety and depression. The elusive search for support beyond painkillers can lead to despair. It's an internal battle most people don’t understand.

The Stigma of Chronic Pain

The bias so often associated with chronic pain creates blocks in receiving care and understanding. Scepticism around it is stark when the physical ailment isn't easily visible. This causes frustration and stress. Furthermore, it can stifle people candidly talking about it.

Easing stigma is as simple as awareness and empathy. For example, sharing personal stories can help understanding.

Healthcare practitioners play a big role in fighting the negative perceptions of pain too. A holistic approach to both the body and mind should be adopted to personalise care.

Support and Empathy for Those Suffering

Sufferers can benefit greatly from a support system, whether it be family, friends, groups, or professionals. Connecting with others who understand validates their feelings and shows they’re not alone.

Even small acts, like lending an ear, extending a hand, or being patient can make a big difference.

Promoting Mental Health Care

Management of chronic pain demands recognition of mental health. But less than half receive assistance with this. Support and coping strategies are needed for the day-to-day.

Headway Nottingham promotes understanding of brain injury and provides support and services to those living with it, their families and carers.