How to Care for a Loved One with Chronic Pain

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Over 100 million people in the US and Canada currently suffer from debilitating chronic pain. Dr. Vladimir Djuric of the Rothbart Centre for Pain Care offers advice to caregivers and chronic pain sufferers on how to cope with their condition and access the specialized treatment they need.

“If you haven’t experienced chronic pain, you can’t possibly imagine what it’s like to live with such a condition. Patients tend to experience more frequent, prolonged and intense episodes of pain, that at some point just ceases going away."

If you or a loved one suffers from debilitating chronic pain, you know all too well the frustration and desperation that goes along with that pain. Today, with new and progressive treatments available from pain specialists, chronic pain symptoms can often be substantially alleviated. According to Dr. Vladimir Djuric of the Rothbart Centre for Pain Care, a support system of friends and family plays a significant role in connecting a chronic pain sufferer with medical treatment and providing them with everyday help and comfort.

Chronic pain is defined as any pain lasting more than three months. One in three Americans and one in five Canadians suffer from chronic pain, making it more prevalent than even diabetes, heart disease or cancer. Chronic pain can affect the back, neck, legs or joints. It can take the form of severe headaches or other afflictions. Seniors are often the hardest hit.

Chronic pain can sideline those suffering, making everyday activities like walking, standing or even sitting for an extended period difficult. The pain frequently does not subside, even at bedtime. Sufferers often cannot enjoy simple leisure activities, finding it difficult to work and causing many to lose jobs and insurance benefits due to frequent sick leave. It's no wonder then that chronic pain is also linked to depression and a higher risk of suicide.

"I wasn't going to make it without pain relief. It was especially hard during Christmas," says Elizabeth (name changed to protect patient privacy) age 54, who suffers from degenerative disk disease which causes her chronic back pain.

“If you haven’t experienced chronic pain, you can’t possibly imagine what it’s like to live with such a condition,” says Dr. Djuric. “Patients tend to experience more frequent, prolonged and intense episodes of pain, that at some point just ceases going away.”

Elizabeth was able to find significant pain relief through regular help from her family and through nerve block treatment offered at the Rothbart Centre for Pain Care, "Regular injections in my neck and shoulder area got me through the holidays."


If you or a loved one suffer from chronic pain, having a strong support system can make a big difference. Here are some ways to offer assistance:

Be Encouraging

Chronic pain patients need encouragement. Take the time to ask your loved one about how their pain is affecting their lives, physically and emotionally. A listening ear can often provide comfort.

Lend a Hand

Chronic pain patients may need practical help like transportation to and from the grocery store, bank or doctor’s office. Some chronic pain sufferers have physical impairments that restrict their mobility. It can be very useful for them to have someone who can assist them in doing everyday activities that most of us take for granted.

Learn About Chronic Pain

Many people who have chronic pain have difficulty doing research about their condition because their pain interrupts their concentration. You can help them with the research process by sending links to helpful websites or offering to research the topic for them.

Stay Positive

It is easy for people suffering from chronic pain to get stuck in a downward spiral of negativity. For patients who have tried many types of treatment without success, this is not solely because of the pain. They may have decided that they will be in pain for the rest of their lives with no hope of recovery. It’s important to be positive and encourage them to continue to search for help.

Recommend Seeking a Second Opinion

There continue to be discoveries and new treatment options that can offer pain relief. Encourage your loved one to seek a second opinion for alternative pain management methods or ask their family doctor for a referral to a pain management professional who specializes in the diagnosis and interventional treatment of chronic pain that can improve their quality of life.

Dr. Vladimir Djuric is board-certified in both Pain Medicine and Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. He is also a certified Independent Medical Examiner.

The Rothbart Centre for Pain Care is a Toronto-based multi-disciplinary medical treatment centre specializing in the management and treatment of chronic pain of the head, neck, face and back. In addition to interventional treatments, they offer pain medication therapy and psychological support. Since 1987, the Centre's team of over 25 specialist physicians, anesthetists and nurses has been helping patients with pain intervention techniques that support a path to wellness.

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Jessica Redfield
since: 07/2015
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