Back pain affects 4/5 adults at some point in their lifetime.
However, the effects of back pain reach even further than that – as it is not only the patient who suffers, but those around them. Continuous, unrelieved pain affects not only the physical and psychological state of the patient but also their family.
The physical effects of back pain on the family are obvious. When a loved one suffers from back pain – it robs them of their lives. They are sometimes unable to do many of the things they did before the pain started, and this leads to frustration and depression.
The inability to do everyday tasks, such as dress independently, drive or walk for long distances can be soul destroying to a patient. It can also lead to increased burdens on other family members or carers who may have to provide extra help or limit their own activities in line with their disabled loved ones.
How can chronic pain affect someones lifestyle?
Chronic pain causes changes in lifestyle which in turn can lead to anxiety, anger and depression. The physical limitations placed on a patient suffering from chronic back pain may also lead to patients being able to maintain employment – and this leads to a whole host of extra pressures on the sufferer and their family.
Chronic pain also affects the patient psychologically. Continuous, unrelieved pain affects the psychological state of both patient and their families. Common psychological responses to pain include anxiety and depression.
The inability to escape from pain can create a sense of helplessness and hopelessness – which may in turn lead to a more chronic depression. Patients may be taking medication which leaves them short tempered, drowsy, weepy or unable to make decisions – causing frustrations to their loved ones. They may also have great trouble sleeping, leading to tensions caused by sleep deprivation.
However, whilst these symptoms are common amongst back pain sufferers, it is easy to forget that the families and carers are also suffering psychologically. Seeing a loved one upset and in pain is traumatic and the inability to help can lead to feelings of anger, frustration and helplessness.
What can you do to help yourselves and support your loved ones?
Communication is the key. Patients and their families must talk about their feelings, frustrations and concerns – both to each other and to their medical professionals.
Talking to other back pain sufferers and their families is also key. We encourage sufferers to attend our Spinal Support Groups and Coffee Mornings to talk to other patients in a relaxed, informal and empathetic environment.
Patients also find using the Discussion Forum to converse with other patients who truly understand what it means to suffer from a ‘bad back’ hugely beneficial.
If you wish to talk to patients who have already undergone treatment to find out what it is involved from a patient’s point of view, we are always happy to supply details of patients who are willing to talk to other sufferers.