10 Tips for Helping a Partner with Chronic Pain


The only thing worse than struggling with chronic pain is watching your partner struggle with it.

It’s a helpless feeling to watch someone you love deal with pain. At the same time, chronic pain affects a person’s daily life on so many levels – emotionally as well as physically.

Your partner may be struggling with emotional distress or depression as a result of pain. And they may have limitations to their daily functioning as well, which means a partner may have to take over many aspects of daily living.

Depending on how you handle it, chronic pain can either take a toll on your relationship or make it stronger. As reported in the Journal of Psychosomatic Research:[i]

“ … not only is chronic pain associated with problems in the marital relationship but heightened distress and physical symptoms is spouses as well. These effects are related less to the existence of a chronic pain problem per se but rather to patients’ and spouses’ manner of coping with the situation.”

Here are some tips to help you help your partner suffering with chronic pain.

How to Help Your Partner With Chronic Pain

10. Talk About It

Patients with chronic pain rated their marital satisfaction significantly higher when they talked more frequently about their pain.[ii] So when your partner wants to talk about the pain, physically, emotionally or otherwise, be sure to listen. (At the same time, don’t only talk about pain … be sure you are still chatting about other goings on as well.)

9. Offer Validation

When you validate your partner, you show understanding and acceptance of their experience. This has been shown to help curb negative emotions.[iii] In fact, after a partner underwent a brief validation training that resulted in increased validating responses toward their partner (along with decreased invalidating responses), it had an “immediate positive impact on emotions in the other person.”

8. Watch for Pain Triggers

Your partner may try to push through the pain, which is sometimes advisable but other times may lead to worsened pain or injury. Be aware of situations that may result in the latter and encourage your partner to stop before pain becomes worse.

7. Be Sensitive to Non-Verbal Pain Cues

Even if your partner isn’t speaking about pain, he or she may still be feeling it. Watch for non-verbal pain cues, such as a facial grimace, slowed gait or moan. Encourage your partner to rest in these situations or even offer a massage, far-infrared heating pad or other source of natural pain relief.

6. Encourage Fun

Depression is common among chronic pain patients, which is why one of the most important things you can do is help your partner feel like his or her old self. If your partner is having a good day, spend it doing the things you love (the house cleaning and work projects can wait for another day).

5. Be Respectful to Your Partner’s Wishes

It’s important to understand that chronic pain tends to ebb and flow. One day the pain may be manageable and the next unbearable (this can even change hour to hour). If your partner expresses he or she cannot do something, be respectful of that. This includes not only physical tasks but also socializing. If your partner is in pain, you may need to cancel a social outing or go alone.

4. Be Informed About the Pain Condition and be Involved in the Treatment Plan

If you understand what’s causing your partner’s pain, it will be easier for you to show empathy, understanding and support. Also, by attending health care visits along with your partner, you’ll learn what activities should be encouraged, how much physical activity is safe and how to offer encouragement. Annmarie Cano, an associate professor of psychology at Wayne State University in Michigan, told CNN:[iv]

“Consider treatment as a joint effort … Both partners should try to learn as much as they can about the pain condition and should attend doctors’ appointments together to learn about options for treatment.”

3. Consider Couples Therapy

If you find that the pain is driving a wedge between you, it might be time for professional help. This can help you communicate without defensiveness and talk openly about how the pain has changed your lives. It can also help you to prevent misunderstandings. As Cano noted, in some cases your partner may simply need to talk:[v]

“They weren’t necessarily looking for the spouse to do more chores, they just wanted their emotional distress to be accepted by their partner and they wanted to feel like their partners understood and listened to them.”

2. Talk About Intimacy

Contrary to what you may believe, chronic pain doesn’t mean the end of your sex life. It means you and your partner will have to adjust to your new reality—temporarily or permanently—to keep the pain at a minimum. Doing this will take open communication and some experimentation in the bedroom (here are some good positions to try if back pain is an issue, for instance).

1. Help Your Partner End the Pain

how to help partner with chronic pain

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One of the best gifts you can offer to a partner in pain is an option for real, lasting relief. First, I would offer your partner a bottle of the all-natural anti-inflammatory Heal-n-Soothe, which has 12 natural inflammation-fighting ingredients, including systemic enzymes. bromelain, turmeric, devil’s claw, boswellia extract, rutin, ginger extract and more. You simply won’t find a more powerful natural anti-inflammatory anywhere else, which is why anyone facing chronic unchecked pain, and its related symptoms, must give this a try.

Some people report near immediate relief upon taking Heal-n-Soothe, but for others relief comes in a couple of weeks. So, in the meantime, and for ongoing use, if your partner is having a pain episode pull out a far-infrared heating pad, which harnesses the power of the sun to help soothe and heal pain from the inside out. Most sources of heat are ambient.

This means they warm the air around you with heat that barely penetrates your skin. Far-infrared rays, which are a form of solar energy on the opposite side of the visible spectrum of sunlight, pass right through your skin – as much as three inches deep – and gently warm you from the inside out.

This heat has therapeutic effects, helping to boost circulation, break down and flush out toxins from tissues, relax muscle cramps and more. It feels so good, you’ll want to use it once your partner is done … Only far-infrared heat can do this, so to give your partner the gift of soothing heating relief from pain now, try the far-infrared heating pad … it works so well, we like to call it the far-infrared ‘healing’ pad instead.

Finally, please share your own tips and ideas with us! What do you do to help your partner with chronic pain? Your words of wisdom could help someone else struggling with pain, or struggling as a couple with pain, right now, so please make a comment below …


[i] Journal of Psychosomatic Research Volume 31, Issue 1, 1987, Pages 63-71

[ii] Pain. 2006 Jul;123(1-2):53-63.

[iii] Scandinavian Journal of Pain January 2015, Volume 6, Pages 16-21

[iv] CNN December 29, 2009

[v] CNN December 29, 2009

Filed Under: Pain Relief
Written By:  Updated:
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Jesse Cannone, CFT, CPRS, MFT

Jesse is the co-founder and visionary CEO of The Healthy Back Institute®, the world-leading source of natural back pain solutions. His mission as a former back pain sufferer is to help others live pain free without surgery and pharmaceuticals.

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