30 Things People Don't Realize You're Doing Because of Chronic Pain


Developing a chronic pain condition may require you to make a number of changes to your lifestyle and daily routine. Activities such as standing, sitting or talking with a friend may trigger pain flares, thus requiring certain accommodations or coping techniques. Everyone has different ways of managing their pain, and while some are more apparent, like taking prescription pain medication or applying a heating pad/ice pack, others are more subtle. In many cases, we may not even realize that another person’s actions (or lack thereof) are directly influenced by their pain levels.

To better understand the ways in which people manage and respond to their pain, we asked our Mighty community to share things others don’t realize they’re doing because of chronic pain. Maybe some of these will sound familiar to you, too.

 

Here’s what the community shared with us:

1. “I will go quiet, drop out of conversations or leave a group of people for a little bit because I’m trying to concentrate on blocking out or dealing with the pain. I know it’s antisocial but it helps and I need to do it to survive a bit longer in the situation.”

2. “Overpacking for everything! I always have a second bag with me, even for a weekend trip because all of my meds, heating pad and any other medical items I could possibly need take up a bag all to themselves.”

3. “I voice text all the time, because my fingers always hurt from typing. It also hurts to hold my cell phone and people just think I suck at spelling and typing.”

4. “People don’t realize that if I’m irritable, I’m most certainly in pain.”

5. “Constantly swaying my hips while I’m standing. I can’t stand still or the pain becomes too much and I have to sit, but if I am slightly moving around it helps keep my body loose.”

6. “I wear leggings all of the time. It’s not a fashion statement. The compression helps reduce the swelling in my legs and allows me to stand for longer periods of time. Same for the fingerless compression gloves I often wear. People ask me if it’s some new trend. Yes, it’s called wearing gloves so that your hands don’t swell up so badly that you can’t bend your fingers.”

7. “When I’m in pain I talk more. Most people think I’m an extrovert and really social but in all honesty I’m an introvert who hates socializing. When the pain really sets in I just talk more as a distraction so whoever is close by is fair game.”

8. “When I used to wear my sunglasses everywhere. Middle of winter, in a store, everywhere. Needed them for the light sensitivity from my migraines.”

9. “Claw my back or dig my nails into a part of my skin that doesn’t hurt. It makes me feel like it takes the pain away from my abdominal region and spreads it to another area. So it’s easier to deal with.”

10. “I never sit, stand or lie down for very long at a time. People assume I’m hyper. I just have to change positions and move due to joint pain from RA [rheumatoid arthritis] and fibromyalgia pain.”

11. “I stay home in ‘my nest,’ my recliner, that I sleep on day or night, with multiple pillows to support certain parts of my body, my electric blanket that I use even in the summer and another blanket on top to hold in the heat. I have my phone, snacks and at least two glasses of ice water beside me on the end table, so I don’t have to get up, and my medication near me at all times.”

12. “Grind my teeth to the point all my molars are fractured down to the gumline. So I have to choose my food carefully and eat slowly. People don’t know that’s the reason why I do these things. They just think I’m a slow, picky eater.”

 

13. “Leaning on things. I always stand behind chairs or lean against walls to help take pressure off of certain parts of my back. I often lean forward or sway side to side slightly if I don’t have anything to lean on. It hurts too much to stand still or without support for too long.”

14. “Smile. I use my light-hearted nature and humor to make everything seem OK. Only my best friend can see the pain in my fake smile.”

15. “Become distant. When I’m hurting I’m either irritable or sad and I don’t want to take my pain out on others so I seclude myself.”

16. “I often overdress and curl my hair during the bad times. What people don’t realize is that I curled my hair because it was easier than having to wash it and take a full shower. I wear nice dresses because they’re more comfortable on my pained middle section than wearing pants. It’s actually the complete opposite impression than the real truth of my night and morning!”

17. “People think I’m clumsy… but mostly it’s pain shooting through my knee, foot, hip or back and sometimes I drop things. Even if it’s just a light cabinet I am opening, when the pain shoots through, my hand will automatically let go of whatever.”

18. “I usually hug people randomly/longer than usual, like my parents or grandparents, because I can temporarily put some of my weight on them relieving my joint/body pain.”

19. “I walk pretty slowly in stores when I go so I don’t run out of energy too fast. Since I don’t look sick, people just assume that I’m slow and trying to be in their way, when I’m not trying to be in their way – I’m just trying to conserve my energy so I can get my grocery shopping done.”

20. “I constantly pick at my fingers. I pull the skin from next to the nail. This is also a part of my anxiety. I do this so the pain at my fingers will take my mind off all of the other pains I have.”

21. “I comb my hair back into a bun. I can’t style it because of the pain in my shoulders and back. I just wet it and make a bun, which is mostly four to five days a week.”

22. “Exercising during the day, like ankle rolls and hand stretches at the copier. I may look like I’m working on my fitness, but I’m usually just trying to loosen up frozen joints.”

23. “Using a fidget spinner. Everyone thinks they are just a toy but they really help me not over focus on the pain when I am in a crowd or out eating with friends. Places when I am unable to just stand up and walk until my knees and back stretch enough to feel better.”

24. “I will go days without showering. [It] looks like I’m just gross and lazy but the feeling of the water hitting my skin feels like needles stabbing me allover.”

25. “I constantly fidget or move. Whether it’s my hands or rocking back and forth, being still isn’t an option anymore.”

26. “I will hold my urine until my bladder is so full it hurts in order to avoid the pain involved with getting out of my chair into a standing position, and then each and every agonizing step to the bathroom.”

27. “[I] always use a shopping cart, even for just one item. It helps me maintain my balance and I can lean on it during walking.”

28. “When first standing, either getting out of a vehicle or a table at a restaurant, I take a moment before I can start walking. It may look like I’m making sure I have everything, but I’m actually preparing to move without a limp from pain. It’s very embarrassing if I move too quickly.”

29. “Constantly running my fingers through my hair. I know it looks like I’m just playing with my hair. But I’m actually trying to relieve my constant headache and head pressure from Chiari malformation.”

30. “Everything. Everything I do is based around pain management and making sure that I have enough spoons to make it through the day and into the next. I’m constantly planning how I’m going to self-care, updating my partner if I think something may have set off a flare and ensuring I have things in place in case something happens that may make any of my symptoms worse.”

30 Things People Don't Realize You're Doing Because of Chronic Pain
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