Neuropathic Pain: A Guide For Family and Friends

Neuropathic pain is a pain condition that is not well known, yet it is estimated that something like 1 in every 100 people will experience neuropathic pain at some point in their lives. The problem with neuropathic pain is that it is effectively a problem that arises when the nerves have difficulty sending the appropriate messages to the brain; the result is neuropathic pain.

Neuropathic pain is also caused by a number of conditions, such as diabetes, cancer or even multiple sclerosis and so on. So often we know about the initial or primary condition that someone has, but we do not know about their secondary conditions, one of which can be neuropathic pain.

Psychological Implications Of Neuropathic Pain

One area that is often overlooked by family and friends of someone who has neuropathic pain, is the fact that it is chronic and may be resistant to treatment. So someone can have very severe neuropathic pain, but it can be difficult to treat.

Living with constant pain can cause a person to experience depression and anxiety. This is not because they are weak, or because they are somehow simply giving in to the pain, it is simply a fact that the condition can cause depression and anxiety. However, this can lead in turn to the person feeling that their pain is getting worse and to some extent it is a vicious cycle; the person is in a lot of pain that does not seem to be easing. Because the pain is not easing they get depressed. Because they are depressed, the pain is not eased and so on.

Being Aware Of Pain

One thing that the family and friends of someone with neuropathic pain can do, is simply to be aware of the fact that depression can be common and to look out for it. It is often difficult for the person in pain who is also depressed, to actually realise that they are depressed, so they need friends and family to look out for them and identify the warning signs.

Antidepressant Treatments

Sometimes antidepressants are used to treat the neuropathic pain, but not to treat the person’s depression. The antidepressants are used specifically to treat the neuropathic pain, which can lead to confusion. This is because the person who is in pain may be receiving antidepressant medication, but it may not be targeting their depression and as such they may need their medication altering, if they are to effectively manage their depression.

No Need to ‘Buck Up’

When someone lives with neuropathic pain, what they really need is to be able to express themselves and the effect that the pain has on their lives. They do not need to be told to cheer up or to ‘buck up’, simply because this can make them feel even more worthless, as if somehow they are submitting to the pain and causing their condition to be resistant to treatment.

It is undoubtedly a very difficult condition to understand; but one that demands understanding and not a glib approach, so be gentle, listen and try above all to understand the massive impact that this condition can have on people.