In my practice I treat patients who are suffering from recent flare ups of pain as well as those who have had chronic pain for years. I must say, I am impressed by the human spirit. Many of these patients with chronic pain have persevered with their lives despite their pain. And yet, inevitably the pain will take some type of toll. At the very least, the pain is a stress on the body that, like any stress, has negative repercussions on their health. I have no doubt that it affects other aspects of the lives as well.
Often, as the pain diminishes with treatment, I will notice their mood and their energy levels improve. I suspect their personal relationships also improve accordingly. This also opens up their lives as they are now able to pursue other goals that were previously inhibited by the pain.
This pattern reminds me of the work of the psychologist Abraham Maslow. He created the now well-known Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. The basic idea is that we have to have our physiological needs fulfilled before we can move on to higher pursuits. After all, it is difficult to engage in social pursuits if we are not getting enough to eat.
For the chronic pain sufferer, the physiological need to be pain free and to move freely has not been met. This will permeate their entire life. It will affect their social relationships, their work and even Maslow’s higher pursuits of self-actualization. The worse the pain, the greater the effect.
I often wonder about how many people’s lives are pushed into a basic survival mode because of their struggle with chronic pain. To the extent that I can help free people from pain, to that extent their lives can be opened up to higher pursuits.