16 Photos That Show the Different Ways Chronic Pain Manifests


Though millions of people live with chronic pain, no two experience their pain exactly alike. From the location and type of pain you have, to the various treatments you use, each person’s pain manifests in unique ways. And yet, there’s still so little understanding of what it’s like to live with chronic pain among the general population — especially with the opioid crisis dominating the news cycle. It’s more important than ever that people begin to understand how chronic pain truly impacts a person’s everyday life.

To share a realistic view of chronic pain and demonstrate the diverse, devastating ways it can affect someone’s life, we asked our Mighty community to share a photo of one of the ways chronic pain manifests for them. Perhaps you’ll relate to these warriors’ challenges, and share to help educate others about what chronic pain really means for the people who live with it every day.

Here’s what our community shared with us:

1. “Really bad day, I was bedbound for an entire weekend and maxed out on all of my medications. I had to cancel all my plans and miss seeing an out-of-state friend to stay on my couch and sleep because that is all my body could handle.” — Caitlin M.

woman lying on couch under blanket

2. “My hand swelled and burned then my finger was stuck this way.” — Kristin L.

hand with two fingers stuck in position next to each other

3. “Laying with my head on my sister’s lap because the pillows hurt my neck. Can’t move my back out of this position but I’m managing to hide most of the pain from my face so I can complete a ‘what are you up to?’ thing on my friend’s Facebook wall.” — Nat L.

woman lying on her back with arm above her head holding phone

4. “CRPS… My body on fire. I would like to write a story someday for The Mighty and use this photo. Pure hell!” — Shelley S.

woman scrunching her face in pain

5. “I have systemic lupus erythematosus. This is me after a few hours out with my friends at a restaurant. Feet up, TENs machine on my ankles to sooth some of my ouchies and pain meds taken. There is always a price to pay for having some fun, but it was a lovely evening!” — Janey G.

woman's legs with tens machine on ankles

6. “I have hypermobility syndrome. On this day my jaw dislocated about 40 times. The jaw support strap helps a lot.” — Ina H.

woman with support strap around jaw and head

7. “My chronic pain causes many hospital stays and now I almost always have to wear sunglasses. My chronic illnesses mean multiple brain surgeries.” — Essence C.

side by side photos of woman wearing dress and her in the hospital

8. “I have hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. My neck and shoulder pain gets so bad, especially at night, and it often wakes me up. It hurts in those moments even just to be lying down. Then of course it triggers migraines, which is a whole different story.” — Chelsey E.

woman sitting on bed closing her eyes

9.CRPS swelling and trying to manage the intense pain with lidocaine patches.” — Samantha L.

leg with two lidocaine patches on it

10. “The mountain range that used to be a hand/wrist that worked! Psoriatic arthritis and fibromyalgia.” — Britt B.

hand with large bump on knuckle

11. “Genetic and autoimmune diseases. I’ve lost my right kidney and half of my bladder. My symptoms never fully subside, even in ‘remission.’ It’s so bad in the mornings that I get up at 4:30 to leave my house by 8. My entire life is structured around my symptoms.” — Lindsay R.

woman lying in bed with cat

12. “Stomach bloating so much from chronic stomach issues.” — Cassidy S.

bathroom mirror selfie of girl showing bloated stomach

13. “Getting my neck stretched out at physio to try and assist with the constant pains particularly in my neck and shoulders. This is not a resolution. This is just an assistance and usually wears off in a week.” — Amy L.

woman lying on doctor table

14. “Sometimes the only comfort I find when I’m stuck on the couch or in my bed suffering from the pain of three autoimmune diseases is the comfort of my sweet girl laying on my lap because she knows Mama doesn’t feel well.” — Amanda S.

woman lying in bed with dog on top of her

15. “It’s so many needles they run out of veins.” — Lidia M.

foot with IV in vein

16. “Pills, pills and more pills!” — Jamie G.

handful of pills


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