Optimizing Relationships To Manage Pain

Relationships play a crucial role in chronic pain. Having a healthy support network can help you cope with chronic pain while being socially isolated or being in a toxic relationship can significantly worsen your condition.


Many people with chronic pain stop socializing with others because they feel miserable, but by doing this, they lose access to the physical and emotional support that others can provide them with. It's important to stay connected to close friends or family who are supportive and who you can have fun with. Remember that relationships are not based on doing things together...strong relationships are about being together and enjoying each other's company. So you don't have to host a dinner or go out for specific activities. Simply chatting over a cup of tea on a regular basis is quite sufficient to help you cope better.

Toxic Relationships

Many people with chronic pain cope poorly with their condition because they have to deal with being bullied or harassed (at work or at home) in addition to their pain. In these situations, it is vital to have a network of people to support you against the harassment. Equally important, you need to learn how to establish your personal boundaries and assert yourself in a relationship. There are many ways of being assertive in a relationship and a psychological professional can help you develop these skills.

Standing up for yourself does not automatically change the way that others treat you. You cannot control what others do or even the outcome of what you do. But you do have the choice to take action. If you deny yourself this ability to take action, you will perpetuate any feelings of hopelessness and helplessness about your situation.

Dr. Trung Ngo founded Novah Healthcare in 2017, an interdisciplinary clinic that specializes in the conservative management of acute and chronic pain. His Novah clinic will continue the work he did from 2011 to 2017 at Mount Sinai Hospital, where he led an interdisciplinary team in assessing and treating complex, chronic, non-cancer pain. His Mount Sinai team helped patients decrease their pain, improve their daily and vocational functioning and reduce or eliminate their intake of pain medications (including opioids). Dr. Ngo graduated from the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College and subsequently pursued a residency program at Hamilton General Hospital in which he furthered his training in orthopaedics and pain management.

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