The Mighty Logo

17 'Normal' Things That Are Difficult When You Live With Chronic Pain

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

Have you ever gotten frustrated by chronic pain making small tasks such as cleaning, showering or driving more difficult? If you live with chronic pain, you’ve probably struggled with many seemingly “normal” things. But just because something is easy for one person, doesn’t mean it’s easy for the next. This is especially true when you live with chronic pain.

Just because something seems easy, doesn’t mean it actually is. Sleep is often something most people don’t think twice about, but when you live with chronic pain, painsomnia might keep awake. And most people don’t love cleaning, but if you have joint pain or mobility challenges cleaning might as well be climbing Mount Everest.

If you live with chronic pain, you know it can make daily life more of a struggle. Unfortunately, not everyone gets it. It might be hard for the people in your life to understand. If they can do something, why can’t you? Well, the answer is pretty simple: Because chronic pain changes everything.

You’re not alone if chronic pain makes simple tasks a challenge. That’s why we asked our chronic pain community which “normal” tasks they struggle with. Share this with your loved ones who might need some insight or just keep it handy to remind yourself there is a community of people who “get it.”

Here’s what The Mighty’s chronic pain community had to say:

1. Shopping

“Grocery shopping used to be one of my favorite things to do out of the house. I love food and cooking. And now, for various reasons, going to the grocery store is exhausting physically, emotionally, and mentally. Makes it hard to enjoy when I’m working so hard to keep myself safe inside and out.” – @lizhosea

“Shopping. Any kind of shopping. I dread it. It makes me so tired and causes so much pain that it really isn’t ever worth it. Thank God for Amazon.” – Meaghan D.

“Food shopping. I get so disoriented in the aisles, holding onto the trolley to stop me from collapsing.” – Denica W.

If shopping is difficult for you, check out these Mighty articles:

2. Exercising

“Exercising. No matter how many times over the years I’ve tried to exercise, I always seemed to end up injuring myself worse. Even walking can be a problem, but now I put on my knee brace, grab my hiking poles for stability and do it anyway.” – Tracy K.

If exercising is a struggle for you, check out this Mighty article:

3. Cooking

“Making basic meals for the family. I love cooking, but my body just won’t let me stand long enough to prep a meal. Even sitting to prep can cause pain. I do push myself for special reasons (birthdays, Easter, Christmas, etc). It is even harder for me as before the pain, cooking was my stress relief.” – Michelle M.

If chronic pain makes cooking difficult for you, check out these articles:

4. Working

“Working full time. It’s something that my body is no longer equipped for, but I have to force myself to so that my family and I can survive.” – Holly D.

Check out these products if you struggle to work due to chronic pain:

5. Sleeping

“Sleep! I’m in so much pain that it keeps me from falling asleep or staying asleep.” – Letia N.

“Sleeping. I don’t remember what it’s like to look forward to getting into bed and sleeping for longer than 30 minutes at a time before the pain filters into my dreams and wakes me up so that I move and then my 30 minutes starts again.” – Teresa F.

If you have trouble sleeping due to chronic pain, check out these articles from our Mighty community:

6. Socializing

“Socializing! My pain just consumes me where I am unable to do much at all. My brain fog makes it so difficult to keep up/in conversations.” – Paige C.

Does chronic pain make socializing difficult for you? If so, this article is for you:

7. Going to Church

“Something as simple as going to church can be challenging due to the hard pews and the lengthy time in the same position. [I took things] for granted before becoming chronically physically ill.” – Denise E.

If going to church with chronic pain is an issue for you, read these articles from our Mighty community:

8. Trying on Clothes

“For me, it’s trying on clothes. I cannot think of the last time I tried on clothes before buying them. Also just speaking in general, I have such a loss of words at the worse times and it’s frustrating wanting to say something but literally nothing comes out.” – Beth S.

If trying on clothes can cause chronic pain, check out some of these products that can make wearing clothes easier:

9. Intimacy

“This may be taking it too far but, sexy time with the husband. Not quite as involved as I’d like to be (at all), although on the positive side we’ve found muscles not previously used much apparently.” – @jorja-rugrst

Is intimacy difficult for you because you have chronic pain? You might benefit from these articles:

10. Chores

“Dishes is my nemesis when it comes to chores. Between my back, neck, and hands, I’m usually on the verge of sobbing into the sink because standing bent over for a sustained amount of time is so painful. I feel so accomplished every time I get them done, but I wish it wasn’t such a big deal.” – Jenna B.

“Doing some basic chores, like vacuuming, cleaning the bathtub, etc.” – Dagmara C.

“Cleaning. Even on my best days tugging on a heavy vacuum or leaning over to scrub out a tub is impossible. On my bad days, I just lie in bed and watch the ‘fur tumbleweeds’ drift along the floor.” – Angie B.

If cleaning is a struggle for you due to chronic pain, read these Mighty articles:

11. Driving

“Driving. Sitting in such a position can be very painful for my back and hips. Also, working the pedals can be almost unbearable when my joints are flared up.” – Rebecca J.

“Driving in a car, being confined to my seat for a 45 min drive to work one way – knowing I have to be in a cubicle for eight hours, just to have to sit in a car again.” – @danpogorzelski82

If your chronic pain comes from fibromyalgia, this article may be relevant to you:

12. Holding Hands

“Holding hands with my husband. We’ve been together for 13 years and we’ve always been holding hands. In the last two years, I can only stand it for about three to seven minutes.” – Melinda M.

If you live with chronic pain and your partner needs resources on how to support you, check out these Mighty articles:

13. Getting Out of Bed

“Just getting out of bed in the morning. My joints are all stiff and feel rusted on the inside after sleeping.” – Rebecca J.

“Standing when I get out of bed in the morning. I first have to crawl for 10 mins or so, then pull myself up and continue with two sticks.” – Arjan B.

If chronic pain affects your mornings, these articles could be helpful:

14. Showering

“Showering. I only shower about once a week. There are times when I forget the last time I showered. I used to take one or two showers a day.” – Jodi A.

“Showering and doing my hair and makeup for work. I take two or three days in between showers because it’s so exhausting. That way, I don’t have to spend so much time on my hair the next day. I always shower at the end of the day, that way I can go to bed after.” – Liz T.

“Bathing! Who knew that something as simple as a shower or a soak in the tub could be so exhausting? I feel like I’ve run a marathon and still have to dress afterward.” – Shelley F.

If chronic pain makes showering difficult, you may relate to these Mighty articles:

15. Cutting Food

“Having to have my meat cut for me. It is too painful for my hands and embarrassing when we are eating out.” – @3knights357

“My husband [cuts my food] for me. I feel like a child when he does it.” – @nettie1061

If you relate, check out this Mighty article:

16. Playing With Your Kids

“Playing with my kids. They’re in grade school and very active. They want to do all the things I used to do: bike, hike, swim. But it’s rare that I can do those things with them without inducing significant pain and fatigue, and needing [a few] days to recover.” – Liz S.

If chronic pain makes parenting difficult, you might relate to these articles from the Mighty community:

17. Making Decisions

“Making decisions. When my pain is bad the fatigue gets worse and I find it hard to think straight. Sometimes even getting the right words out can be difficult.” – Kathleen H.

Does chronic pain make it difficult for you to make decisions? You might find this article from a Mighty contributor relatable:

It might be difficult to ask for help when you live with chronic pain, but know that it’s OK if you do need help sometimes. If you’re struggling, reach out to someone you trust so they can support you more and show them this list to help give them insight.

Originally published: September 10, 2019
Want more of The Mighty?
You can find even more stories on our Home page. There, you’ll also find thoughts and questions by our community.
Take Me Home