Back pain: Helping my Partner
This article is aimed at companions of a back pain sufferers to encourage you to work together as a team with your partner in an attempt to battle the daily trials back pain can bring to a relationship.
Working with each other is absolutely paramount when facing such a trial.
Ok, if you’re a partner of a back pain sufferer, we can start on the first topic – Sympathy. This is a very important area to begin with as it can have negative percussions if you are not highly sympathetic towards your other half’s back condition. For example, the consequences can lead to other problems developing such as mental health issues of anxiety, depression and reduced self worth, so be wary here.
Some times the simple things are the most effective. Let your partner know that you are there for them by taking the time to listen. This will let them know that you do not see them as a burden and may help encourage them to open up to you.
Support groups and organisations.
Encouraging your partner to seek out support groups or forums for back pain may also help give them a boost in self esteem by showing to them that other back sufferers are going through the same if not similar situation as them. Such groups may also help them find alternative coping methods, treatments or strategies for back pain that other fellow sufferers may be finding effective and may work for your partner too.
Finding out further information about your partner’s health condition will help you sympathise with them better and maybe help you gain a further insight into what they are going through. Your partner may not be great at expressing how they feel and if this is the situation reading material that other fellow sufferers have written may give you a better understanding of the daily battles they may be facing. It will also show them that you are being supportive and caring, which is naturally appreciated by someone that is in a lot of pain.
Your spouse may be good at hiding their pain from you. Keep an eye out for clues that the pain is getting too much before it escalates. Being agitated, short tempered, a rigid body stance, sighing and frowning are all signs that their pain may be worsening. When this occurs a gentle suggestion for them to rest and take some pain relief may help defuse the situation.
Ask them to rate their pain from a score of 1-10 but make a note of their pain thresh hold in comparison to yours. If in the past it is usually higher (their rated 5 could be your version of your 10) so it is good to bare this in mind when they are communicating their pain scores to you.
Attend GP appointments together.
Attending any appointments with your partner will also help deepen your understanding of their condition but communicate to them that you care and are being supportive. It may help bring you closer together by becoming their confidant by being able to talk over what was discussed during appointments such as the pro’s and con’s of potential treatments and medication choices.
Get back to where you both began. Even if your partner is unwell and gets tired easily it is still nice to feel appreciated and of course loved. They may not have a lot of energy to do certain things (you will have to gauge their limits) but some times the simple things mean the most. Ideas such as encouraging them to rest in a comfortable, calm place, running a bath, playing relaxing music, using low lighting, getting their favourite book, film in, giving them a massage or even giving them a simple hug. It’s good to remember at the end of the day that we all human with basic needs that should be met.
Try to remind your partner if they do feel like they want to get some work done that they need to take regular breaks even if they feel at the time they are doing ok it is important to not over do it as they may pay for it later on and have a burn out. Also try to do the enjoyable things together first before the chores like cleaning the house and grocery shopping, as they are all things that can be put on a back burner if your partners condition flares.
Encourage a variety of friendships.
It is also important that your partner maintains a good circle of supportive friends who are both sufferers and non-sufferers. Fellow back pain sufferers who are friends will be great to relate to and are important for your other half to not feel alienated or isolated. While non-back pain suffering friends can provide a different input as they may help to encourage your partner to have conversations about other non-medical related topics. This may result in taking the focus off their back pain once in a while.
You will already be very aware that every day presents a different challenge for your partner in fighting the battle with their back pain. There will be times that they can cope with the pain but there will also be other occasions when you feel helpless and unable to do anything to help them when they are suffering. However, if you try and remember to do just some of the things mentioned in this article and try your best to tackle the on going disabling back problem together, you can be assured it will result in an improved outcome for both you and your partner.
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