With most people using the internet to help them with their health conditions it has meant that support groups are popping up everywhere. But, how important are these groups for you?
What does a support group do? A support group provides an opportunity for people to share personal experiences and feelings, coping strategies, or firsthand information about diseases or treatments.
A support group offers a safe place where you can get information that’s practical, constructive, and helpful. You’ll have the benefit of encouragement, and you’ll learn more about coping with your problems through shared experiences.
How can a support system help during a tough time? It can reduce stress: A strong support system aids in stress reduction. Venting and spending time with loved ones can help reduce our anxiety, and increase our mood. Call a friend or family member to go for a walk, hike or a yoga class when you need to reduce stress.
Mental Health writes that Support groups are core to their work. They provide invaluable spaces for members to come together to share experiences, speak openly about challenges and share information.
Pain UK writes why they think support groups help.
- Feeling less lonely, isolated or judged
- Gaining a sense of empowerment and control
- Improving your coping skills and sense of adjustment
- Talking openly and honestly about your feelings
- Reducing distress, depression, anxiety or fatigue
- Developing a clearer understanding of what to expect with your situation
- Getting practical advice or information about treatment options
- Comparing notes about resources, such as doctors and alternative options
To Better Days wrote that a 2018 study by the British Medical Journal estimates that a whopping 43.5% of UK inhabitants live with chronic pain, ranging all the way from little niggles to cripplingly painful illnesses. While each individual has to manage their pain on their own, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they have to manage everything on their own.
There are a number of chronic pain support groups dotted all over the UK. These are a great way to meet people who face the same day-to-day reality as you, learn more about pain management techniques and work out how you can begin to live your life to the fullest. If you pop over to the To Better Days website you will find different types of chronic pain groups that are out there, as well as the specific groups that operate in your local area.
I wrote an article in 2018 which had a list of some chronic pain support groups in the UK which I will list below for you.
Pain UK – www.painuk.org
An alliance of charities provides a voice for people suffering chronic pain. Pain UK has produced a call to action document that outlines the burden of chronic pain to the NHS, society and people living with chronic pain.
The Pain Relief Foundation – www.painrelieffoundation.org.uk
A registered charity whose aims are research and the dissemination of information relating to chronic pain. THE FOUNDATION IS CLOSELY ASSOCIATED WITH THE PAIN CLINIC AT THE WALTON CENTRE FOR NEUROLOGY AND NEUROSURGERY NHS TRUST.
Pain Concern – www.painconcern.org.uk
Providing information, support and awareness for chronic pain. They also have a radio program Airing Pain which brings together people with chronic pain and top specialists to talk about the resources which can help.
Pain Concern produces a new Airing Pain programme once a month, which you can hear on Tuesday and Sunday evenings at 8pm via Able Radio. Podcasts are then available to listen to on-demand via our website. You can subscribe to the Airing Pain podcast on Audioboom, iTunes and through most podcast apps.
The British Pain Society – www.britishpainsociety.org
Aimed at healthcare professionals working in the field of chronic pain, their website also contains some useful information and resources. The British Pain Society is the oldest and largest multidisciplinary professional organisation in the field of pain within the UK. Chronic pain is suffered by over a third of the population. It is commonly distressing and commonly highly disabling. It is devastating for individuals who suffer. Many cannot work and lose their jobs.
Their multidisciplinary nature is pivotal in making The British Pain Society a uniquely relevant representative body on all matters relating to pain.
The Pain Toolkit – www.paintoolkit.org
A very useful website featuring pain management techniques and information. The Pain Toolkit originated back in 2002 when Pete Moore was writing a self-management article for pain healthcare professionals. Living with pain himself, he recognised while writing his article, that he had developed a toolkit of pain management skills to enable himself to become an active self-manager and to lead a better life.
Another great site is Pain Support which also has a long list of online support groups to look through. The Pain Support website was founded by Jan Sadler in 2000. Jan has lived with the challenges of back pain and sciatica for many years and so understands the experience of living with chronic pain. She lives in the UK where she has been working with people in pain since 1990. Jan was awarded an MBE in 2012 for her work with PainSupport and her services to pain management.
- Arthritis Care www.arthritiscare.org.uk Information and leaflets. Local Challenge Arthritis courses throughout the UK.
- Away With Pain www.awaywithpain.co.uk
- BackCare www.backcare.org.uk Help line: 0845 130 2704
- The National Endometriosis Society www.endo.org.uk
- Fibromyalgia www.fibromyalgia-associationuk.org and www.ukfibromyalgia.com
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) Self Help and Support Group www.ibsgroup.org
- Marie Curie Cancer Care www.mariecurie.org.uk
- Migraine Trust www.migrainetrust.org
- New Approaches to Cancer www.anac.org.uk “A gentle and loving information service” for those with cancer.
- Pain Association of Scotland www.painassociation.com Local pain management groups.
- Pain Concern www.painconcern.org.uk Help line: 0300 123 0789
- Penny Brohn Cancer Care (previously Bristol Cancer Help Centre) www.pennybrohncancercare.org
- Repetitive Strain Injury Association www.rsi.org.uk
- Scoliosis Association UK www.sauk.org.uk
- Spinal Injuries Association www.spinal.co.uk
- The American Chronic Pain Association www.theacpa.org
- The National Endometriosis Society www.endo.org.uk
- Trigeminal Neuralgia Support Group www.tna.org.uk
There are definitely enough groups online to support anyone in pain and like Mental Health wrote “They provide invaluable spaces for members to come together to share experiences, speak openly about challenges and share information.“