Living with Chronic Pain: Psychological and Emotional Effects

Painkillers only mask some of the pain. They don't get rid of all the pain.
Painkillers only mask some of the pain. They don't get rid of all the pain. | Source

Pain hurts, but chronic pain not only hurts, it also takes a toll on your mental and emotional well-being. Chronic pain can lead to loss of enjoyment, chronic fatigue, and depression. This depression exacerbates the sensation of pain and a vicious cycle is perpetuated.

I’ve been suffering chronic pain since 1999. I had a car accident that left me with a permanent neck injury and migraines. The accident caused the muscles in my neck to tighten to the point of causing compression in my cervical vertebrae, specifically C1, C2 and C3.

Compression of these three vertebrae can cause migraines because the vertebrae put pressure on the thecal sac. This sac surrounds the spinal cord and contains the cerebral spinal fluid. In essence, it is an extension of the dura mater that surrounds the brain. Putting pressure on the sac cuts off the flow of fluid resulting in a migraine. Stress inevitably makes the compression worse.

My neck hurts constantly whether I have a migraine or not. On days I have a migraine, the pain in my neck is usually worse than usual. Rainy and stormy days make the pain worse, and the winter months can be agonizing.

Some days are better than others, but even on good days I can’t turn my neck all the way to the right or left. I take several medications, but they really only take the edge off the pain. In the past 15 years, I can count on one hand the number of days I’ve had without pain and still have fingers left over.

This type of chronic pain is suffered by approximately 116 million Americans. That’s 116 million people that suffer long term pain, and many of them suffer with it daily. The pain itself is stressful and exacerbates any stress life throws at us. The extra stress has an extremely detrimental effect on a person’s overall mental status.

I take so many medications it looks like I own a pharmacy.
I take so many medications it looks like I own a pharmacy. | Source

Biphasic Sleep for Arthritis

I have found that breaking my sleep into segments has helped to alleviate the stiffness I usually have upon waking. I’ve been following a biphasic sleep schedule, which has given me more time in my day and has also alleviated almost all of the stiffness I used to get after a traditional night’s sleep.

Biphasic sleep consists of two sleep segments. One segment is three or 4.5 hours long, and the second segment is 1.5 hours long. If you'd like more information about the benefits of this type of sleep pattern, visit my article Biphasic Sleep Patterns.

Cognitive Impairment Caused by Chronic Pain


Chronic pain can make already forgetful people even more forgetful. I’m an absentminded person to begin with and the pain only makes it worse.

On days my pain is greater than normal, I do notice I suffer from aphasia, which is an impairment of language. I tend to forget words I would normally be able to think of readily, like medical terminology. Interestingly, aphasia is part of my prodrome prior to a migraine as well.

Inability to Focus

When the only thing you can focus on is pain, it’s hard to focus on anything else. Right now, I’m sitting here trying to write this article, and the only thing I can really think about is my pounding headache.

Anyone with chronic pain can tell you the more they try to focus on something else, the greater the pain gets. Many chronic pain sufferers have arthritis which makes sitting for more than even a few minutes painful. I have a hard time sitting to write simply because my neck gets so stiff. I have to get up and walk around to relieve the pain, which breaks my concentration.

Sleep Disturbances

Not only can the pain interfere with getting quality sleep, but the depression can make it difficult to fall and stay asleep. After a day of severe pain, I tend to oversleep because I’m so tired from tolerating the intense pain.

Oversleeping just makes things worse, however. After 8 hours of sleep, my neck is stiffer than a board, and most of the time I wake up with a headache.

People with arthritis tend to have the same problem. Lying in a bed for 8 hours leads to stiff joints because inflammation is able to build up and muscles tighten because they aren’t being used.

Voltaren Gel, Ibuprofen and tramadol pain medications.
Voltaren Gel, Ibuprofen and tramadol pain medications. | Source
I take an antidepressant and an anti-anxiety pill in an effort to keep my depression in check.
I take an antidepressant and an anti-anxiety pill in an effort to keep my depression in check. | Source

Psychological Effects of Chronic Pain

Depression and Anxiety

Chronic pain can break a person’s spirit. The idea of having to live life in pain is enough to depress anyone, but actually doing it can force the person into deep depression. It's essentially daily torture.

The pain makes it difficult to want to do things that were previously enjoyed. Playing with kids or grand-kids, outdoor activities, even household chores can exacerbate the pain forcing the person to avoid these activities.

If they do engage in such activities, the enjoyment once felt is no longer a reality, which leads to further depression.

Many chronic pain sufferers, including myself, are on antidepressants in an effort to prevent the plummet to rock bottom, but it doesn’t always work. The pain inevitably surpasses the ability of the medication to alleviate symptoms.

Some chronic pain sufferers lose their job or are on disability because they can’t work. This not only leads to financial stress and being unable to provide for the family, it also causes feelings of worthlessness, and uselessness making suicide ideation become more commonplace.

My well worn neck brace.
My well worn neck brace. | Source
Tramadol 50mg tablets
Tramadol 50mg tablets | Source

Breakdown of Relationships

Many chronic pain sufferers live alone either because a marriage ended, or the pain has forced them to isolate themselves.

People who do not experience this type of pain have a hard time understanding and tolerating those who do. Chronic pain has no visible symptoms, meaning other people can't see that you are suffering. It's not like a broken arm or other visible injury. Because of this, many people think that chronic pain sufferers are "faking it." This can lead to further isolation.

Trying to be a parent and living with pain is extremely difficult. The frustration that builds up from constantly being miserable inevitably gets taken out on those closest to you, including your kids.

Since I chose to homeschool my daughter and spend all day with her, she gets the brunt of my frustration (as does my husband) despite my attempts to contain it. This is the case with most families of chronic pain sufferers, and it typically forces the sufferer into isolation, or at least into feeling like they are isolated.

Isolation, or the feeling of it, causes the sufferer to withdraw from all social relationships, not just family ones. Intimate spousal relationships are often severely affected but not necessarily because of a lack of interest in sexual intimacy.

Although it’s hard to think about making love when your head is pounding or you can’t turn your neck at all, there is a definite need to feel intimate with your spouse if just to feel normal. Tolerating chronic pain takes a lot of energy, and most people who suffer with it also suffer from chronic fatigue. This tends to drive a wedge between spouses.

Do You or Someone You Know Suffer with Chronic Pain?

  • Yes, I do
  • I don't, but I know someone who does
  • No, I don't know anyone and I do not suffer chronic pain
See results without voting

This is just a small list of some of the side effects of chronic pain. The psychological and emotional effects of chronic pain can vary widely from person to person. These effects are tempered by the sufferer's pain tolerance level.

The longer you deal with chronic pain, the higher your pain tolerance becomes. On the flip side of this, tolerance to pain medications also becomes higher, making it necessary to take more medication to feel any relief. This, in and of itself, can exacerbate the psychological symptoms.

If you or someone you know suffers with chronic pain, seek help. Contact psychiatrists, doctors or support groups to help you or your loved one prevent the psychological symptoms of chronic pain.

Most importantly, keep in mind that chronic pain can't be seen, but that doesn't make it any less real. Anyone you come in contact with could be suffering chronic pain, and you should treat them accordingly.

© Copyright 2012 - 2014 by Melissa Flagg, aka Daughter of Maat ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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Comments 72 comments

UrsulaRose 4 years ago

I can so relate to your words DOM and look forward to reading your future hub articles on this debilitating subject, especially on how you cope and manage chronic pain without taking pain meds.

I am struggling with a major bone-pain flare-up at the moment (two weeks+) and am just about at my wits end fighting this particular pain-demon without popping prescribed pain meds.

phoenix2327 profile image

phoenix2327 4 years ago from United Kingdom

Need I say, I know exactly what you mean. I think the worst part is not being able to talk to anyone about it.

Much of my chronic pain is invisible to the outside world. It's not like having a broken leg. There is a visible cause to the pain and people tend to be more understanding about why you can't get around like you used; why you seem more down.

But I, like you I imagine, carry the pain inside; hidden from the outside world. We can talk about it (boy, can we talk about it) but we tend to get written off as whiners. I think a great deal of the isolation you speak of comes not just from the debilitating effects of chronic pain but from the attitude of people outside our immediate family.

Outsiders seem to think that because we carry on as normal (what choice do we have?) that we are exaggerating our pain and we should just suck it up. (Again, what choice do we have.) However, just because it can't be seen, doesn't make it any less real.

And now, if you'll excuse me, I have to take some codeine and paracetamol. I have done something to my shoulder and the pain is now gripping the back of my neck and giving a headache. As this medication is quite potent, I will most likely be insensible for the rest of the day.

You have a good one.

Voted up, interesting and shared.

Ghaelach 4 years ago

Morning Daughter Of Maat.

Having Chronic Osteomyelitis myself I can relate to your struggle against your pain.

All those pills and medicament tend to get on your nevers at times.

I'm one of the lucky ones that has a special method and that is my wife. She helps me through my hard times.

I won't start saying that "I hope you get well soon". I understand the problems you are going through and can only wish that the pain is a little easier.

Your hub hits every corner of the problems with pain. Each of us goes through it differently, but the one thing we all have in common is that it hurts like hell.

Have a nice weekend with a little less pain.

LOL Ghaelach

Bopi-Cheppu profile image

Bopi-Cheppu 4 years ago from San Antonio, TX, U.S.A

Daughter of Maat, your hub informs how serious is the chronic pain disease. In fact, it is one of the major health problem of any society. We need more basic and clinical research to understand what exactly causes chronic pain and how to control it.

Ms Dee profile image

Ms Dee 4 years ago from Texas, USA

As one with Fibromyalgia/CFS/ME it is nice to see an article like this on the effects chronic pain has on functioning. Will go take a look at your CF article.

Dr Pooja profile image

Dr Pooja 4 years ago

Your hub has expressed the anguish of person with chronic pain wonderfully.Most of us including the medical fraternity fail to identify with psychological effects of chronic pain.

Daughter Of Maat profile image

Daughter Of Maat 4 years ago from Rural Central Florida Author

@UrsulaRose I'm sooooo sorry! I know what you're going through. I just went through a rough patch myself for about a week and a half where I couldn't turn my neck at all and had to use my neck brace 24/7. Believe me, I was popping pain pills, sometimes you just have no other recourse. When you need to get things done and your family depends on you, there's no shame in taking pain meds to get you through the day in my opinion. I do hope the pain gets better soon. It can truly drive you insane.

Daughter Of Maat profile image

Daughter Of Maat 4 years ago from Rural Central Florida Author

@Phoenix, ah yes, my twin. I agree, not being able to talk about it makes it that much worse. Like you my pain is invisible to the outside world, and complaining about it to other people only serves to makes everyone miserable. I could talk about it for hours (I wrote over 1,000 words on it lol) but most of the time no one wants to listen because like you said, we're thought of as whiners. That isolation can come from immediate family as well, unfortunately. It really makes you wonder sometimes if you aren't really a whiner.

You hit the nail on the head, we have no choice, we have to carry on as normal. Life keeps going despite how much pain we're in. Our families need us to take care of them, chores need to be done, money needs to be made, etc. We can't suck it up anymore than we already are, and no one really gets that. If they could spend just a day in our shoes, hell just an hour, they'd be much more sympathetic.

It sounds like you're getting the same headaches I get. I'm SO SORRY. I honestly don't wish the pain on my worst enemy. It's funny how you can feel the headache start and intensify. At least there is some warning, I guess.

Hope the pain dulls soon.

Daughter Of Maat profile image

Daughter Of Maat 4 years ago from Rural Central Florida Author

@Ghaelach Indeed, swallowing a handful of pills a few times a day isn't how I thought I'd spend my life. Like your wife, my husband is kind enough to help me when the pain makes me unable to get anything done, or even think clearly for that matter. You are so right, it hurts like hell.

Thank you for your kind wishes. I hope you too have a little less pain.

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Daughter Of Maat 4 years ago from Rural Central Florida Author

@bopi-Cheppu I agree. I don't know why there hasn't been more research into chronic pain, it seems we spend our money on everything else. Painkillers are just bandaids and too many people are suffering.

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Daughter Of Maat 4 years ago from Rural Central Florida Author

@Ms Dee, I'm so sorry you suffer from all those conditions, I'm sure your chronic pain is only compounded by them and I doubt painkillers help at all. I'll get my other hub out as quickly as I can, I didn't realize this hub would get such a response. But I should've known better lol

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Daughter Of Maat 4 years ago from Rural Central Florida Author

@Dr. Pooja, Thank you! I have a unique perspective I think. Since I was in the medical field, I know what most people think of those with chronic pain, and as a sufferer myself, I know how the sufferer feels in the presence of the medical community. There is definitely a huge gap between the two. I think it comes down to (again) those who don't suffer chronic pain can't fathom what we go through. Most doctors I run into think we're only after narcotic painkillers. Unfortunately, most of us don't want the narcotics, we just want the pain to go away. Those who are seeking just narcotics have ruined it for those who truly need it. I think many medical practitioners, like you said, fail to acknowledge the psychological effects. They're more concentrated on the physical aspect. Thank you so much for you comment!

Robertr04 4 years ago from Detroit,Mi.

Hello DOM. Not suffering from CP myself, but having clients that have/are, I can imagine... My wife and I are herbal practioners and when I read your hub there were a few things brought too mind from those experiences that I did not see mentioned. If you don't mind here are a few of those thoughts. Poor nerve health we often found brought on a host of physical disorders, Parkinson's, Alzheimers,inflammatory meningitis, loss of or impaired muscular movement and control. The nervous system also affects mental balance. Weak nerves result in neurosis, tension, and anxiety. Extreme nervousness and irritability, the inability to relax (usually back pain), with lack of energy, chronic headaches and stiff necks, dizziness, heart palpitations often with high blood pressure may mean nerve health conditions. Some had periodic numbness to various parts of the body, hands and fingers may itch, toes may "go to sleep" or tingle. Temporo-mandibular joint (TMJ) was found to occur on occasion (an umbrella term coverng acute or chronic pain especially in the muscles) may cause jaw pain, dizziness or headaches. Some had double vision or a blind spot in the visual field. Beyond damage from stroke, MS, a blow or an accident like a whiplash injury or a pinched nerve, poor circulation, thyroid dysfunction all can figure in. Too many chemicalized foods, especially sugars, unrelieved mental or emotional stress, metabolic imbalance from an infection may be involved. We can even go as far as adding bottle fed babies have close to a 50% higher chance than breast-fed babies of developing neurologic disorders. What we have used with success, I will wait for your next hub to discuss, for we are always looking for more and possibly better treatments too add to our practice, and after 13 yrs I have no doubt you will be more than capable. I truly hope I haven't bored or encroached in any way.

Daughter Of Maat profile image

Daughter Of Maat 4 years ago from Rural Central Florida Author

Not at all I appreciate the info, although this hub was more tailored to psychological effects, as you said there is much more to this than meets the eye. Interestingly, you mentioned heart palpitations with high blood pressure, lack of energy, chronic headaches, stiff neck may mean nerve health conditions. I have every one of those symptoms. I also have periodic numbness that wakes me up at night. CP itself can cause high blood pressure, but I suspect all my symptoms are coming from nerve damage in my neck. I haven't had an MRI in years, so I don't know if or how much nerve damage there is. Much of our chronic health problems in this country are due to insufficient vitamin consumption and terrible diets. In fact there is some research that states SIDS is a result of vitamin C deficiency! Since vit C is required in the production of collagen, the fact that my neck didn't heal correctly after the accident is proof (to me anyway) that my vitamin C levels have been low for quite some time (there's other proof as well but not related to this topic lol).

Thank you for the info, and I was definitely not bored, and there's no worry about encroaching. If I'm missing something, or there's an error in my work I hope someone will tell me. I want this information to be as accurate as possible and every little bit helps!

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Sherry Hewins 4 years ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

You did a really fabulous job of writing this hub considering the difficulty you described. I'm sure you have expressed the frustration of many people who are in a similar situation. I could tell you were really writing from the heart, and I'm sure this hub will prove to be one that is well searched for and read. Voted up and useful.

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Daughter Of Maat 4 years ago from Rural Central Florida Author

Thank you so much Sherry! You're too kind! This is one of those topics that really moves me. So many people suffer in silence, and knowing that someone else feels their pain can offer some comfort. I'm glad that came through in my writing. Again, thank you so much!

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Ms Dee 4 years ago from Texas, USA

Look forward to your next hub ! :) I am fortunate in that ibuprofen, though it is not supposed to, helps some. Otherwise, 3000 mg/day of magnesium malate really helps. About 4 yrs ago I took for about two years an amino acid supplement specific for FM and it really helped get rid of a large amount of the pain. I have a hub on it. Still dealing with the CFS/ME though, too. Have been trying 5HTP lately to get better sleep. (Have a hub on that, too.)

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Daughter Of Maat 4 years ago from Rural Central Florida Author

@Ms Dee, how's the 5HTP helping? I'll have to check out your hub on that. I use ibuprofen as well, especially when the pain is bad enough to warrant taking something but not bad enough to take the painkiller. I've found niacin helps me quite a bit. I have a hub coming on that as well. It tends to work really well on arthritis, I'm not sure if it would work on FM or CFS/ME.

Ms Dee profile image

Ms Dee 4 years ago from Texas, USA

Right, it does not help the FM pain in the muscle fascia. Although the magnesium I take helps a lot with stiffness and muscle cramps. I still can't do without the ibuprofen for some reason. The 5HTP has reduced my insomnia quite a bit. I get to sleep within 30 mins now, instead of 60-90, and only can't back to sleep in the middle of the night if I'm in quite a bit of pain from my spine.

Daughter Of Maat profile image

Daughter Of Maat 4 years ago from Rural Central Florida Author

Have you thought about trying biphasic sleep? It might help with the stiffness and since you're waking up already in the middle of the night... I have a hub on it if you need more info. It's really helped with my stiffness and I get much better sleep than if I try to get a full 8 hours.

You need the ibuprofen because of the inflammation, but specifically it keeps your prostaglandin levels low preventing the inflammation from getting worse. Niacin would actually exacerbate that.

Robertr04 4 years ago from Detroit,Mi.

Yeah D. I left out psychic inhibitions has being one of the symptoms on purpose. But once you beat the pain (it can be done), the mental aspect takes care of itself. As herbalists we believe illness is 80% mental and 20% physical. Looking forward to your next hub. Shalum

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Ms Dee 4 years ago from Texas, USA

Hey, that is probably true as to why I need the ibuprofen--the inflammation! I think I knew that once but was forgetting (does that tell you something?). I will go look at your biphasic sleep hub--that may be appropriate for me. :)

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Daughter Of Maat 4 years ago from Rural Central Florida Author

lol I totally understand the forgetting part! Although I was absentminded before I had the pain, it just got so much worse afterwards! lol Vitamin C also works well against inflammation in high dosages. But more on that in my next hub. :D

Ms Dee profile image

Ms Dee 4 years ago from Texas, USA

Hmm, didn't know or forgot about that about Vit C. Will be interested to read if more than what I'm taking would help. :)

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Daughter Of Maat 4 years ago from Rural Central Florida Author

I take 8,000 mg a day if that is any indication. Everyone needs a different amount, it depends on how "sick" the body is (for lack of a better term). When I got sick it doubled to 16,000 mg. Andrew Saul, Ph.D states "Take as much as you need to be symptom free." The goal is to reach "bowel tolerance" and then back off a bit. I have a hub on vit C for more info on the bowel tolerance thing. It's essentially diarrhea, just really bad lol

Ms Dee profile image

Ms Dee 4 years ago from Texas, USA

Very helpful on Vit C dosage. Thanks!

Daughter Of Maat profile image

Daughter Of Maat 4 years ago from Rural Central Florida Author

You're most welcome! Anything I can do to help!

Alastar Packer profile image

Alastar Packer 4 years ago from North Carolina

Daughter you and i both suffer from chronic pain and sleep probs. The constant battle with pain would eventually wear a person down to no quality of life so thank goodness there are medical alternatives to help alleviate it to certain degrees. Keep up the good fight and Alastar certainly empathizes with you. Will be interested to see next what your pain relief methods are.

Daughter Of Maat profile image

Daughter Of Maat 4 years ago from Rural Central Florida Author

Thank you Alastar. I agree, without painkillers I wouldn't be able to function as well as I do! I'm quite thankful for my pain meds, but they do come with nasty side effects unfortunately, so I try to use them as infrequently as I can. Some days it just can't be helped, especially if it's raining. Does you're pain worsen when it rains or storms?

Alastar Packer profile image

Alastar Packer 4 years ago from North Carolina

Now that you mention it Daughter it does indeed. Maybe its the air pressure?

Daughter Of Maat profile image

Daughter Of Maat 4 years ago from Rural Central Florida Author

It's either the drop in pressure, or the humidity, I haven't quite figured out the reason, but I know the rainy season here in Florida aggravates my pain horribly. I know it increases inflammation so I suspect it's the humidity. But, I'm in the process of researching this for another hub, so I'll let you know! lol :D

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phoenix2327 4 years ago from United Kingdom

You never cease to run out of things to write about. Does homeschooling your daughter inspire you to write? Are some of you hubs actually lesson plans?

Btw, I think it's a combination of both pressure and humidity. After three weeks of almost constant rain, the sun has finally come out. My joints have stopped aching, my asthma has eased up and my hay fever is back under control.

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Daughter Of Maat 4 years ago from Rural Central Florida Author

lol No they aren't lesson plans, but they should be! I do always have a good stream of ideas, my problem is finishing the hubs. I get stuck at like the third or fourth paragraph and then the article sits in my Hubpages folder on my computer forever! Although I really should be writing all these ideas down...

I think you're probably right about the pressure and humidity. It's been sunny for the past 3 days here too, and my neck doesn't hurt as bad and my joints aren't as stiff. Unfortunately, I'm a lot more creative when it rains! I just can't win lol

lovedoctor926 4 years ago

I am sorry to hear that you are going through all of this. I can imagine how painful a migraine headache must be. I suffer from tension headaches and when I get them I feel like I'm going to pass out. You might want to consider getting a chair massage. These are really good to alleviate pain on your neck, shoulders and lower back with a professional masseuse of course.

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Daughter Of Maat 4 years ago from Rural Central Florida Author

Thank you lovedoctor! Tension headaches can be just as painful and they can cluster too. I've been using my neck brace a lot more frequently which helps. Massage chairs, while definitely very nice, don't have enough force. My neck is so tight that my poor husband really has to push as hard as he can for me to even be able to FEEL that he's doing anything. I tried a masseuse a couple of times and none of them were able to put enough pressure on the muscles to do any good lol. The chair would work on my back though and they do feel really nice lol :D

phoenix2327 profile image

phoenix2327 4 years ago from United Kingdom

Same here. I've got loads of half-finished articles and short stories sitting in various folders. I start off well enough and then (snapping my fingers) the words just stop. But I am determined to finish them before I start another thing. If I run out of steam on one, I'll move on to the other. It's very slow progress, but it is progress.

At the end of the day though which would you prefer sun or rain? I understand about the creativity, but can you really be at your best when you're hurting? I'll take sun any day though, granted, it is a big distraction.

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Daughter Of Maat 4 years ago from Rural Central Florida Author

I tend to jump from article to article as well. It's almost like I have to be in the mood to write a certain article etc.

Actually, I love rainy days. I don't like being in pain, but I can take painkillers, or workout, but I can't always make myself creative. Plus I just love the sound of the rain, and being able to look out into my gorgeous backyard and watch the rain fall in the pond. I tend to be less grumpy when it rains too for some odd reason. Maybe it's because astrologically I lack water completely, or the rain just relaxes me mentally, I don't know. But I prefer the rain. I also prefer the winter which makes my pain worse because the cold makes all my joints stiff etc. But I love cold weather lol. I'm a glutton for punishment I guess. When I was a kid I always preferred the rain as well, maybe it just carried over.

kittythedreamer profile image

kittythedreamer 4 years ago from the Ether

Wow. I'm sorry you have to deal with such pain in your life. I pray to the God and Goddess that your pain will eventually cease.

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Daughter Of Maat 4 years ago from Rural Central Florida Author

Thank you Kitty, that's really sweet of you and I greatly appreciate it! Although I'd love to be pain-free, it has changed my personality and my life significantly. So even if given the chance to change things and prevent the chronic pain, I'm not sure I would. But I definitely wouldn't wish it on anyone, even my worst enemy.

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fpherj48 4 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

DOM....I am so appreciative you have taken on this topic. Individuals having to live with and deal with pain....chronic pain, has become epidemic and I don't believe medical science can keep up with it.....although I realize they are always trying and researching. Thank you for a very well-done hub on this subject. UP+++

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Daughter Of Maat 4 years ago from Rural Central Florida Author

Thanks Paula! This is one of those subjects that I feel people really need to be made aware of. Too many of us suffer in pain everyday and no one else is aware of it, or think we're just complaining. Chronic pain is very real, and it really effects one's mental status! There's a reason we're depressed!

TToombs08 profile image

TToombs08 4 years ago from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map.

Wow, DOM, great hub! Towards the end of my mom's life, she had chronic pain. The docs gave her a self medicating morphine drip that made her pain bearable, but she was never comfortable. It must have been a relief for her to finally pass on.

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Daughter Of Maat 4 years ago from Rural Central Florida Author

Thank you TToombs! I feel for your mom. No one should have to suffer like that. Pain meds help, but they don't get rid of all the pain. At least she's no longer suffering!

mythbuster profile image

mythbuster 4 years ago from Utopia, Oz, You Decide

Hello Daughter of Maat. This is an awesome, informative hub and I'm glad you mentioned the cognitive effects that accompany chronic pain conditions, psychological effects, how living with chronic pain issues affects relationships, and more. A lot of times, these aren't given much attention. I am lucky for the nature of the chronic pain conditions I have because they're quite manageable so long as I take precautions and look after myself. I usually feel incredible pain over many days only if I have failed to look after myself for a while due to stress, distractions (stress lol), or some major traumatic event in my life (death in the family, an accident - my own or among friends and family, etc) and if I am taken out of my regular environment where I don't have my usual safety items and routine.

I understand how others have conditions they can't escape as well as I can and am always interested in understanding how people build more coping plans, skills, etc. Mostly, I believe that we all need to honor invisible illness much more and BELIEVE then respond appropriately to people when they say "I am in pain," because pain isn't something we can usually see. This is a really nice article and I'm glad it's on the web for everyone to see! Thank you for sharing. Take care of yourself! :)

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Daughter Of Maat 4 years ago from Rural Central Florida Author

@mythbuster thank you for your kind comment. Indeed, many people with chronic pain have alternate ways of dealing with the pain. But even then, chronic pain can have emotional consequences.

I agree, just because pain can't be seen doesn't mean the sufferer isn't in pain and I think more people need to be made aware of that fact. Because of this, I intend to write a bit more on this topic. I think it needs to be brought out into the open so that more people can understand the suffering these people go through.

Thanks for reading and commenting!

SRae profile image

SRae 4 years ago from Central Pennsylvania

I have recently been diagnosed with fibromyalgia so this article came at just the right time for me! It is exhausting physically and mentally. I actually just quit my job and will be staying home to cyber school my kids. You expressed how I have been feeling for a LONG time but I didn't seek medical care until the neropthy in the predominantly left side of my body and the excruciating pain in my elbow joints started. Thanks for an informative piece.

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Daughter Of Maat 4 years ago from Rural Central Florida Author

@SRae, I'm sorry for your recent diagnosis. Chronic pain can feel like a death sentence and as you've already seen can completely change your life. I'm glad you found my hub useful, it's an issue very important to me. I wish you all the best and hope you will someday be pain free!

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AnnaCia 4 years ago

Thank you for this very important information.

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Daughter Of Maat 4 years ago from Rural Central Florida Author

Thank you AnnaCia, it was my pleasure

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Julie DeNeen 4 years ago from Clinton CT

Wow, I had no idea you suffered with this. :( This hub is excellent however, and will shed light for others who may not understand what it is like to live in so much pain. Great work here.

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Daughter Of Maat 4 years ago from Rural Central Florida Author

Thanks Julie! I'm hoping this hub will help others who may not suffer chronic pain, but know someone who does, understand what we go through.

Thanks for stopping by, always a pleasure to hear from you! I love your blog btw!!

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innerspin 4 years ago from uk

I think anyone living with a chronic condition will recognise your message, which is an important one. It's easy to get slightly dismissive - oh yeah, we know you're always in pain, never mind, now what was I going to say? It's old news, or everything that can be said has been said. If a hug helps, please have a big one from me.

fatboyfreak 4 years ago

Ive been suffering since 2002 from lower back pain. And now have upper thorascic problems that are worse than the lower! Lost my job, family, all of it. Now 10 yrs later im miserable! The severe pain and frustration have never been worse. Your article helps me a lot. Actually printed it to help to get the doctors to maybe understand me better. I wish there was a like button!

The pain is overwhelming, the Psychological trauma is indescribable. I once was a man who had it all! I worked in the construction industry, many years as a union carpenter making close to 100,000$ a year. Now i get a SSI check for 650 a month. As you can expect every aspect of my life has changed for the worst. Instead of having fun, Im forced to spend hours on the phone trying to get help, trying to get to the doctors that will still treat you, and have to deal with the ever present feeling that your being pegged as a drug user. Being denied, being lied to by doctors and ins. The frustration is almost unbearable.

And a trip to er is just to sit and then have the doctor tell you to contact your primary, waste of time. Primary tells you to look for pain management, yet when you call, PM ask why your calling and not doctor. Ins telling you to do this and that and the doctor says your ins needs to do that. I just want to scream!

One doctor says you need to reduce your pain meds, but gives you no other options to reduce the pain where I can reduce meds. If they could just get it so it wasn't so intense I could reduce. Despite already dropping down from 3 60mg morph to 2 to i haven't had any in 7 days. from 6 Vicodin 750 to 4 a day.

Not to mention the muscle relaxers, 1 a day, BP meds, anxiety and depression meds and one more for low testosterone.

I can't see doing this for much longer.

Something has to change, Maybe the lottery would help? Could afford to pay cash and Id bet they'd be willing to do anything I ask. But until then, im just another lost soul sliding down lifes drain.....

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Daughter Of Maat 4 years ago from Rural Central Florida Author

@innerspin Thank you! Hugs are always welcome! You're absolutely right. It's like because it can't be seen it doesn't exist so it's dismissed. Frustrating for all of us.

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Daughter Of Maat 4 years ago from Rural Central Florida Author

@fatboyfreak I know exactly how you feel. It is so frustrating to go from doctor to doctor and get nothing but "sorry call this person, maybe they can help."

I'm not sure what your diagnosis is, but chronic back pain can be a result of many things. The one thing physicians won't tell you (or even consider) is vitamin C deficiency. Vitamin C is required for the production of collagen, a fiber that basically binds everything together (muscle, bone etc). The majority of the population is suffering from low to mid level vitamin C deficiency and there are many symptoms of this that mimic other diseases. It's not full blown scurvy, but it's a chronic "almost scurvy" if you will.

I have found taking vitamin C in megadoses (8,000mg a day, more when I'm sick) has alleviated A LOT of my pain. I don't know if it would help you, but it certainly could hurt you. You can't overdose on vitamin C. Any excess is filtered into the urine by the kidneys (of course if you have kidney problems you'd have to be careful).

I'm so sorry you have to deal with this. It's not fair, and again I know how you feel. Niacin may also be an option for you.

I wish you all the best, and let me know if the vitamin C helps. :D

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StephanieP 4 years ago from Los Angeles, California

Your hub was very inspiring to me. I have been suffering from lower back pain and nerve pain in the feet for over a year now. I've been in physical therapy which helps a lot and some weeks I feel like I'm finally going to recover only to be met with another curve ball and the pain comes back to remind me it's still not over. That part of the cycle is so depressing.

I'm not on pain pills either although I have taken a number of muscle relaxant which don't take pain away but help with the spasms. Gabapentin is helping with my feet too. I want to believe I will fully recover one day but at the same time I need to accept that it may be a chronic problem.

God bless you and I hope that you one day find permanent, sustained relief.

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Daughter Of Maat 4 years ago from Rural Central Florida Author

@Stephanie, I'm sorry you have to suffer like that, and you're right that cycle is so depressing. It really can take a toll on your overall health and mental status.

Mind over matter. The mind has the incredible ability heal the body. Keep thinking positively! I hope you don't have to deal with chronic pain. Hopefully someday, modern medicine will find a cure for chronic pain for all our sakes!

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visionandfocus 3 years ago from North York, Canada

Sorry to hear about your chronic neck pain. So many people can trace the beginning of their chronic pain to an accident, usually a road traffic accident, but I have reason to believe that the accident is merely the trigger and not the true underlying cause. I wonder what you would think of my hub on chronic pain? I'd be very interested in your feedback and input. Thank you for sharing your personal story.

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Daughter Of Maat 3 years ago from Rural Central Florida Author

@visionandfocus, I agree with you, I think that accident simply triggered whatever was wrong with my neck to begin with. I'd be happy to take a look at your hub! :D

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tsmog 3 years ago from Escondido, CA

Well I looked up Opthamology and then said, "I knew that." I see one every two years for diabetes. I must have a foggy brain now, closer to 'theta' than 'Beta' having just awoke or have I?

Chronic pain is a recent study I seek while the cause of the search is Fibromyalgia. I have an empathic sense and having read so much in a continuous sitting and my Valentine a person with that diagnosis it is dear to my heart.

Oddly, back in '78 I experienced a compression fracture of C5, C6, C7. The natural curve was lost as well of those 7. The fun part was the shared experience of both retrograde and anterior grade amnesia. The latter recovered with a week or so and the former a bedfellow for 34 years.

Incorporating chiropractic care beginning in '93 through '07 some of that curve, flexibility, and cause of calcification was lessened. The headaches for me dissipated becoming a thing of the past. I stopped that care in '07 for odd causes.

In 2012 I injured that neck once again. The resultant exam and physical therapy was for the muscles and those 7 now like a ruler being straight instead of curved. Those original lower 3 now have disc degeneration and as stated by the medical examiner, "now fusing nicely."

This year I have returned to my former chiropractor and we are on a mission of a sort. The exciting part was concurrent to this more recent injury the effect of Spontaneous Recovery regarding the 34 years of retrograde amnesia.

The effect a very trying year of confusion trying to put new memories in order while understanding newly discovered joys and of course truths not known for so many years.

I was essential a mess and raised havoc for those with no understanding of that phenomena. I'm still sorting things out, yet psychologically have a 'better grip' so to speak. My therapist needed a few breaks from me along the way it seemed. Joking with the pun of breaks. I still have not memory of the incident with the absence of a few days now, rather than a few weeks.

A long comment and I do apologize. For your pain based on the experience I have learned through novice research and observations is seeking the theory of soft tissue memory as related to the injury. Again a long intro to that little thought.

I did some research tying chiropractic care with depression and pain back in '97 - '98 and latter in 01' - 03'. A footnote is I have a diagnosis of Bipolar type I with psychotic features. Any hoot. That research led to the practiced care of chiropractic or of convention osteopathy (O.D.) regarding the soft tissue corresponding to those nerve pathways of varying cervical 'outlets' of the conduits of pain receptors.

Another view may be the simple communication of the neural network and the corresponding conduits through the spinal network to those outlying areas where pain is actually experienced within the soft tissue, yet the transmission is lost through nerve damage somewhere.

What I theorize or may have been by others and just not discovered yet is pain is experienced at point 'C' yet no pathway exists for it, therefore pain is experienced at point 'B' or point 'A' within the neural network. A false indicator sort to speak or the wrong place may be treated with no end result.

In essence the care and nurturing of those areas does two things - relives memory of tragedy and creates opportunity of healing. However, overwhelming may be a cause of psychological pain affecting the memory of the physical as that of experience relived.

Or, in other words there is a back or neck pain, which holistically is more easily accommodated by the 'being' or the inclusive body, mind, soul, and spirit as the physical pain allowing for that root function of self-preservation of another of those four elements of the holistic self.

Though of pain it is, that of the physical may be much more bearable than that of any one or combination of the other three. Or, little doses of psychological pain over a longer term through physical experience may offer healing. The end result is the nurture and healing of the soul affecting the spiritual or non-material spirit of 'self' while in a state of 'life' so to speak.

Again, I offer an apology while asking forgiveness for a long response to a very enlightening hub article and the corresponding comments. I have been known to at times comment of length and am seeking to curb that. I thank you for this opportunity to offer two cents worth of personal experience.


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Daughter Of Maat 3 years ago from Rural Central Florida Author

The brain is very mysterious, there is so much we don't know about it and the spinal cord that treating pain or any other neurological disorder seems an exercise in futility.

That said, it has been shown that psychological pain will exacerbate physical pain, and I can vouch for that. My accident was extremely traumatic, especially since it was 2 weeks before my 21st birthday. The care I was in had been a gift from my dad with whom I've always been close. The car was totaled and I felt a huge loss. I still do more than 13 years later. I'll still tear up when I think about it.

Carrying around that emotional pain definitely exacerbates my neck pain and is probably the root cause of my migraines. Ironically, it's a vicious cycle. The emotional pain exacerbates the physical pain which in turn exacerbates the emotional pain.

I'm sorry for what you are currently dealing with, I don't think anyone should have to suffer with any pain, but it is a part of life unfortunately. I wish you all the best, and thank you for your comment! Personally, I don't think comments can be too long (unless its just ramblings lol) thanks again!

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phoenix2327 3 years ago from United Kingdom

I like your new profile pic. Very nice. Are you keeping well, then?

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Daughter Of Maat 3 years ago from Rural Central Florida Author

Things are looking up, temporarily at least. All the bills are paid for once and that's a big load off of my mind. On top of that I've been organizing the hell out of everything which has also made me feel a lot better. I've been working hard on my blogs in hopes that adsense will kick in. If I can get some income coming in before April, we might be okay. :D

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phoenix2327 3 years ago from United Kingdom

Oh, yes. What is it about organizing that is so calming? Must be that control thing kicking in. lol

I'm sure things will be fine. You're doing all you can to help yourself. I've no doubt circumstances will come together to provide some opportunities for you.

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Daughter Of Maat 3 years ago from Rural Central Florida Author

I hope so. Mercury happens to be retrograde right now though, usually nothing good ever happens when that stupid little planet is backwards. lol :D

Bob 3 years ago

DOM, Thanks for article. I also suffer from severe chronic pain. What I am wondering is how can you oversleep after a day of severe pain? if I have a day of severe pain (frequent), it does not relent enough at night to "sleep in". However, I also don't take any pain cocktails and am beginning to wonder if I am receiving diminshing returns from resistance. The rest of me is beginning to fall apart, secondary infections, etc. due to pain and related parasomnia.

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Daughter Of Maat 3 years ago from Rural Central Florida Author

I end up "sleeping in" because of the muscle relaxants I take. Believe me I pay for it, I wake up to even more pain. But when the pain is so bad during the day, I find myself forgetting about the pain I end up with the next morning in favor of finding a bit of relief in the here and now. And the pain doesn't necessarily relent, the drugs just force me to fall asleep regardless. It's a vicious cycle.

If you aren't taking any "cocktails" (great way to put it by the way) I would fight against them as long as you can. If you need something to take the edge off, try just one medication instead of a cocktail like I take. I'm not sure either situation is preferable, the sleep I do get isn't great!

In regards to your secondary infections, I would highly recommend megadoses of vitamin C. Having constant high levels of pain essentially obliterates your immune system, and taking massive doses of vitamin C can help not only restore your immune system, but also fight the infections. It's an antibiotic, antihistamine, antifungal and antiviral. I take 8,000mg a day (2,000mg every 4 hours) and I haven't been sick, with even the common cold, in about 2 years. It has also helped alleviate some of the pain in my knees because of it's effects on collagen. Can't hurt to try it, the only side effect is diarrhea if you take to much. :) I hope that helps!

Brian 2 years ago

Wow, the statements in the article are so very true and are backed up by many people here also. I have been a chronic thoracic and cervical pain sufferer since 1979 caused by a severe concussion my senior year in a football game. The pain didn't start for me till 6 years after the concussion but by then the damage to my discs had already started. You are all correct that chronic pain is an invisible pain and many of my friends and family just don't understand it because they can see the cast on the arm or leg. I lost my marriage of 33 years to chronic pain because my wife couldn’t understand why I couldn’t do the social things with others anymore like I used to do. As the pain slowly began controlling what I could do, I established my comfort zone like many people do and that is where I spent most of my time. Pain is so exhausting and unrelenting.

TomDickandHarry 2 years ago

Hi, thank you for posting. I wish you all the best. I can relate very well with what you are going through. It's exactly the same for me though I'm a guy. Sometimes it's helpful just knowing you aren't the only one dealing with these very difficult issues.

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Daughter Of Maat 2 years ago from Rural Central Florida Author

This is so true. I'm so sorry for the loss of your marriage. Unfortunately, it is very difficult for those without chronic pain to understand and emphathize (or even sympathize for that matter) with someone who is suffering. Chronic pain isn't just physical pain, it wears down your psyche, and has severe psychological effects. Even the most strong minded people, occasionally break down in tears because they can find no relief. It's torture that you cannot escape. You eventually learn to do those things that you absolutely have to do such as laundry, going to work etc regardless of the pain, but some days are better than others, and on the worst days, it's all you can do to get out of bed.

I wish you all the best Brian and I hope that you find some solace in the fact that you are not alone. :)

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Madoline Balle 5 months ago

Fellow chronic pain / fibro sufferer here, and I share your frustration. My trick is that I do everything in 15 minute increments and alternate standing / walking and sitting throughout the day. I sleep when I need to and that can happen at any time. Often, I sleep better during the day than I do at night. Thanks for the post!

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Daughter Of Maat 3 days ago from Rural Central Florida Author

I have found that I typically sleep better during the day as well, which makes things difficult when you work during the day. :D

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