If you’re not among the 50 to 70 million Americans who have some degree of chronic back pain, consider yourself lucky. However, you may still have a friend or family member who isn’t so fortunate. It’s a good thing to want to be supportive to someone with chronic back pain, and knowing what not to say during regular conversation may prevent some unintended awkwardness or strained relationships. Back surgeons in Santa Monica recommend thinking twice before saying these 3 things to someone living with chronic back pain.
1. “Have You Tried This?”
It’s easy to think you’ve found a possible solution for your friend’s chronic back pain when you come across some new treatment or a promising clinical trial. However, most people with chronic pain have already explored several treatment options and are likely already in the habit of staying on top of trends. Plus, their doctor may have ruled out some of those procedures or techniques for their particular situation. Instead:
- Call just to ask how the person is doing
- Talk about things likely to provide a pleasant distraction
- Be available to listen
2. “Maybe It’s Just in Your Head.”
Chronic back pain can be unpredictable and doesn’t always have a clear source. This doesn’t mean the discomfort experienced isn’t real. Suggesting that “it doesn’t seem that bad” can put someone on the defense. People with lingering back pain often have good days and bad days and varying degrees of discomfort. Be supportive, but don’t base your assessment of their pain solely on what you observe.
3. “You Never Want to Do Anything.”
Some people with chronic pain avoid certain social settings because of their discomfort. In other cases, there are activities, such as dancing, skating, or standing in a crowded club or concert venue for hours, that are off limits due to their condition. Instead:
- Suggest a non-strenuous activity likely to be a welcome distraction
- Pay your friend or loved one a visit so he or she can still enjoy your company
- Make appropriate modifications to activities you know the person previously enjoyed.
If you know someone who is living with chronic back pain and cannot find relief, he or she may need spinal fusion surgery, decompression, or cervical disc replacement. Santa Monica patients trust in Dr. Hyun Bae at The Spine Institute to diagnose the source of their pain and help them start living pain-free. Find out why by calling 310-828-7757 and scheduling an appointment today.