When your back hurts all or most of the time, it can affect more than just your body. There's an emotional side to chronic pain. You may need a shoulder to cry on or someone to talk to. You need support.
Support groups—where you meet or talk to people who are dealing with the same issues you are—can be a great source of comfort and advice.
We've all experienced back problems from time to time -- lower back pain or strain of the neck. In fact, problems from back pain are among the most common physical complaints of American adults and are a leading cause of lost job time -- to say nothing of the time and money spent in search of relief.
Back pain includes sore muscles, ligaments and tendons, herniated discs, fractures, and other problems. Most often, the causes of back pain have developed over a long period of time.
Some support groups focus on education. These groups
often are led by a professional, such as a teacher or a doctor who shares
information about the problem. Other groups focus on support. They often
include only people who have the same problem. These are called peer
In a peer group, you'll find people who are going through
the same things you are. You'll see that you're not the only one and that
others have the same feelings and challenges as you. Group members can give you
support, advice, and encouragement. You can see what is working for others and
decide if it might work for you.
You can help others in the
group by paying attention and letting them know you are listening and by
sharing your thoughts. Your experiences and ideas may be new to them. Being
able to help others is rewarding and helps you gain self-confidence.
Peer support may include consumer providers and consumer-run
A consumer provider is someone who has been
trained to help others with the same type of problems. You can find consumer
providers in clinics. Because they know what you have gone through, they can be
good role models and coaches.
A consumer-run service is a group,
or part of a group, in which people with the same problem provide services.
These services include support groups, peer counseling, telephone help lines,
and drop-in centers.
Ask your doctor, counselor, or other health
professional for suggestions.
Ask your religious leader. You can
contact churches, mosques, synagogues, or other religious
Ask your family and friends.
Contact a city, state, or national group
for back pain or chronic pain. Your library, community center, or phone book may have a
Search the Internet. Forums, email lists,
and chat rooms let you read messages from others and leave your own messages.
You can exchange stories, let off steam, and ask and answer questions.
Look for a support group that works for you. Ask yourself
if you prefer structure and would like a group leader, or if you'd like a less
formal group. Do you prefer face-to-face meetings, or do you feel more secure
in Internet chat rooms or forums?