14 Side Effects of Chronic Pain We Don't Talk About — in Photos


As anyone with chronic pain knows, there’s more to chronic pain than “just” pain. While the literal sensations of your pain can be difficult enough to deal with, there’s also the matter of side effects — additional challenges and symptoms you experience as a result of your chronic pain. Perhaps you have side effects from medications you take because of your pain, or dealing with pain has led to mental health challenges.

It’s important for the “healthy” world to recognize the wide-ranging effects that chronic pain can have on a person’s mind and body. After all, supporting someone with pain requires understanding all the ways chronic pain can make life more difficult. So we asked our Mighty community to share photos of the side effects of chronic pain that are rarely discussed. Perhaps these photos will ring true for you, too.

Here’s what our Mighty community shared with us:

1. “To fight the extra pain I experienced on a family trip, my doctor doubled my [medication]. The side effect from that was edema in my extremities to the point of pitting where an impression of my finger on my leg remained for quite some time. Chronic pain has negative consequences, and taking meds to fight the pain has negative consequences. It’s quite the battle.” — Sarah N.

swollen ankle

2. “I have to get injections in my back and neck to release built up tensions around pinched and compressed nerves. My back and shoulder blades are all red, bruised and wonky.” — Allison M.

woman showing back in mirror

3. “Two nights of fibromyalgia flare-ups. Went to the ER and they tried to tell me it was psychological. They gave me an aspirin and sent me off on my way.” — Sofia C.

two photos of woman looking upset with time stamps 3:24 and 3:44

4. “All alone at night, painsomnia keeping me up. Feels so alone and like the night will never end.” — Melanie C.

woman's face

5. “I had my esophagus removed and you’d think most of the damage would be on the front of my body, but half of the surgery is done by access to the back. Now I suffer severe nerve damage in my back. I guess surgical intervention can be helpful (vital) but it can come with consequences. I definitely wasn’t prepared for that!” — Katie D.

woman's back with bandage on shoulder

6. “Hopelessness… when the pain won’t let up and there doesn’t seem to be any end to what it’ll steal from you.” — Chelsea N.

woman looking at camera

7. “After a short day at sixth form not moving all that much my feet were mottled red in pain.” — Abi S.

foot with red rash on toes

8. “This was me a few months ago on a really bad day. All I’d done was gotten out of bed, gone to the restroom and sat down. I hadn’t slept much the night before. When I tried getting out of bed my legs wouldn’t move and I spent a few minutes terrified that my legs weren’t working anymore. (I have a lot of back and leg issues). I think my body was just dealing with so much pain that it wouldn’t move. I had to use my walker and have my husband help me use the restroom. All the effort from just standing and moving completely wore me out.” — Larissa P.

woman laying on couch

9. “Having a minor cold zaps everything away from me. It’s incredibly difficult to breathe, coughing is excruciating, my whole body aches to the point I can barely sit up in bed. All I can do is sleep as much as possible and hope for the best.” — Ren K.

woman with thermometer in her mouth

10. “When it’s 80 degrees but your heating pad is the only thing that helps.” — Abbi M.

heating pad on body

11. “I have been diagnosed [with] chronic pain after a cervical spine surgery. I get swelling in my neck to where it was mistakenly diagnosed as a goiter. I also developed heat issues. As my pain raises, I start to sweat, turn red and hot to the touch. I have even had to start shaving the back of my head because it will simply stay wet and helps to cool me down.” — Jaye N.

woman with flushed face

12. “The fact that it takes me over a month (closer to two) to complete the laundry. I usually leave it in the dryer and add a load to that, until it’s too full of clean clothes.” — Krystina F.

pile of folded laundry on couch

13. “Bruises everywhere. Tight sore muscles, trying to massage the knots out results in broken veins and nasty bruises.” — Allison M.

leg with bruises

14. “The amount of baths I take with and without Epsom salts in order to keep my pain levels manageable.” — Krystina F.

foot under water in bathtub


Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.