Why is communication important when someone has chronic pain?

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teen friends talking

Communication is one of the most complicated aspects of being human. It can be both incredibly rewarding and incredibly difficult. Our relationships with those around us both influence and are affected by how we communicate.

While communication a big part of everyone’s lives, it can be even more important when living with a chronic condition. Having chronic pain can challenge your beliefs and relationships and change what you feel is important.

Being able to communicate with people in your life about your chronic pain is extremely important. Talking about the challenges and changes that come with chronic pain can help you sort out your feelings, relieve stress and strengthen relationships.

Communication also helps you to stay informed about your pain and treatment so that you can help make decisions that affect you. How you talk with people about your pain will depend on your own personality and level of comfort. But there are straightforward strategies that you can use to improve your overall communication skills. These can make communication easier and more effective no matter what your style is.

Developing your communication skills

You may find it hard at times to talk to others about your thoughts, feelings and experience of chronic pain. This is normal! Chronic pain and its effect on you can be difficult to describe.

This session is a guide to communicating with the people in your life. Like so many things that are worth doing in life, good communication can be learned but must be practised. You will get better with practice and feedback.

Preparing your message

writing in notebook

​​​If you have something important to communicate, it’s worth taking time to consider what you want to say and why you want to say it. Use the following questions to help you.

What is your goal?

What do you want to achieve? For instance, what do you want the other person to know or do because of what you say? Knowing your goal will help you focus on the points that you feel are most important to get across to the person you are talking to.

What is important to the other person?

Think about or write down some of the things that might be important to the person (or people) you will be communicating with. For example, your safety is important to your parent(s). Before you ask permission to do something, be ready to explain how you will keep yourself safe. This will show that you are thinking about them and their concerns.

Practise what you are going to say

You might want to write out a script or just the main points or key words that you want to communicate. You might do this alone, in front of a mirror or with another person who will give you helpful and honest feedback.

Questions and prompts

The following pages have some questions and prompts to help you:

Last updated: May 2nd 2016