Accepting Chronic Pain: Is it Necessary?

Accepting Chronic Pain: Is it Necessary? — Pain News Network

A patient of mine told me the other day, “I don’t think I will ever be able to accept my chronic pain. It has completely changed my life.”

I think this is something that most people with chronic pain contend with at some point in time; wanting to hold onto hope that their diagnosis isn’t chronic or not wanting to come to the realization that they will have to live with the pain forever.

When most people hear the word “acceptance” they equate it with the notion that they should feel that it’s okay or it’s alright to have a chronic condition.

Many people don’t ever feel okay about having to live with pain or an illness for the rest of their lives. It is not something that is easy to get used to and it’s not fair.  

  • Accepting chronic pain does not mean giving into it and it doesn’t mean that you stop looking for treatment.
  • Accepting chronic pain does not mean accepting a lifetime of suffering.
  • Accepting chronic pain does not mean you are never allowed to feel angry or sad.
  • Accepting chronic pain does not mean that you have to give up hope for the future.

Acceptance also involves making adaptations and alterations to our lives.

A therapy currently found effective for chronic pain patients is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT): Overview of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy,.  Addressessing acceptance seems critical for such patients: Mindfulness, Acceptance and Catastrophizing in Chronic Pain.

Other therapies used: Psychological therapies for the management of chronic pain

We must find new things that bring us joy and we must have hope for the future.

  • Accepting chronic pain means learning to live again.
  • Accepting chronic pain means advocating for ourselves and our health so that we can be as healthy as possible.
  • Accepting chronic pain means learning our limits and learning to cope with feelings of guilt when we have to say “no.”
  • Accepting chronic pain means being able to look at your diagnosis as something you have, not who you are.  Your condition does not define you.
  • Accepting chronic pain means re-evaluating your role as a husband/wife, mother/father, etc. as well as your life’s goals — and figuring out how you can maintain these roles and attain your goals with your chronic condition.

Why is it necessary to accept your chronic condition?

The sooner you are able to begin the process of acceptance, the sooner you will be able to learn exactly how to live with it

Accepting chronic pain means learning to live life in a different way than before your diagnosis… that some aspects of your condition are out of your control.

Accepting your chronic pain means adjusting and adapting to the ways in which your life is different now that you may be living with this kind of unpredictability.

Your life may never go back to what it was prior to your chronic pain.

Any pain patient eventually discovers this as a certainty:

Chronic pain irreversibly transforms your life.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t live a happy, successful, hopeful life with pain.  Learning to accept your chronic pain can help you get there.


Here’s another article on this topic:
Acceptance with Resilience – Living with Chronic Pain | Brain Blogger

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3 thoughts on “Accepting Chronic Pain: Is it Necessary?

  1. painkills2

    “Accepting chronic pain does not mean accepting a lifetime of suffering.”

    I suppose accepting chronic pain means different things to different people, but when you’re in constant pain without end, that’s a lifetime of suffering. The suffering doesn’t ever go away.

    In other words, part of acceptance is accepting the suffering — accepting that the constant pain will always cause suffering — just choosing different ways of dealing with it. Which wouldn’t be so hard if not for the drug war.

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  2. Payne Hertz

    A lot is being made of people’s attitudes in dealing with pain, but does it really make all that much of a difference? If you stand in front of a freight train you are going to be killed or severely injured irregardless of your attitude or “resilience.”

    Chronic pain can be like getting hit with a train. You are a fragile human being met with an irresistible, unstoppable force that can destroy you if it hits you hard enough. No matter how tough or resilient you are or imagine you are, water wears away granite in time and eventually, chronic pain will wear you out and break you down. Your attitude won’t do much to protect you from this process; decent pain relief might. If you can’t sleep because of pain, that alone will put a heavy toll on your body irregardless if you put on a happy face or a stiff upper lip.

    It isn’t that adapting a more proactive rather than reactive mental stance is necessarily bad (though it isn’t necessarily good, either) it’s that we are always being told how to react to our situation by people who don’t understand it and can’t be bothered to listen.

    Acceptance itself is a rather vague concept, but I suppose to understand it you can consider its opposite, which is rejection of chronic pain. Just how does one go about “rejecting” chronic pain? By pretending it doesn’t exist? Good luck with that. By ignoring your pain and pushing yourself beyond your limits (aka “resilience”)? Pain can kick your ass real quick if you get in the ring with it. By putting on a tough guy act for you doctors? They will write about you on their blogs as an example of why people with pain don’t need pain meds.

    If it were possible to truly reject pain, wouldn’t that be a better state of mind than accepting it? I certainly do not accept a doctor’s diagnosis as my destiny, but test my limits myself to determine what I can and can’t do. I do not accept that chronic pain is incurable, as I had a chronic pain condition that lasted over four years but eventually went away after I got sedentary job where I was finally able to rest the injured area.

    At the end of the day you don’t need to accept chronic pain, you need to accept reality. Pain has a way of asserting its reality in your life that is totally independent of your mental state. Ride the tsunami or rage at it, but it is going to knock you off your feet either way.

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  3. Pingback: Chronic Pain IS a Catastrophe | EDS and Chronic Pain News & Info

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