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Is chronic pain ruining your relationship?

Saturday 2 January 2010

HandsCNN's has an article that discusses the problems facing couples when a partner has chronic pain:

Is chronic pain ruining your relationship?

By Denise Mann,
December 29, 2009 9:49 a.m. EST

( – Athena Champneys, 37, has been in near-constant pain since 2003, when she was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, a chronic condition characterized by widespread pain and tenderness. Her husband hasn't always been 100 percent sympathetic, however.

"I was in so much pain that I couldn't bend over to put on my own shoes or socks," recalls Champneys, who lives in Salt Lake City, Utah. "And my husband was like, 'You've got to be kidding me! Get up and deal!'"

Fibromyalgia affects an estimated 5 million Americans (80 to 90 percent of them women), but until relatively recently many doctors have pooh-poohed the condition. Women like Champneys have long been told that the pain is "all in their head," a message that their partners have sometimes taken to heart as well.

Champneys' husband, Adam, acknowledges that he found himself growing skeptical as Athena grew more disabled by her condition. "I started doubting whether it was real," says the 36-year-old real estate agent. "I even started doubting our relationship, because I was having to do a lot of the same things for her that I have to do for our children. She was in her 30s, but it was like taking care of an 80-year-old grandma."

The Champneys' experience isn't unique. Chronic pain -- whether it stems from fibromyalgia, back pain, arthritis, or some other condition -- can have a toxic effect on relationships, especially if one partner is skeptical about the source or the severity of the pain, and the other feels that he or she isn't receiving the proper understanding and support.

The full article can be found here.



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