Social Support Helps Pain Patients Cope

Social Support Helps Pain Patients Cope

This Blog Covers:

  • According to researchers from the VA Connecticut Healthcare System, social support from family and friends may improve symptoms in chronic pain patients.
  • The study, conducted by clinicians at the facility, analyzed the biological, psychological, and social factors of combat veterans with chronic pain.
  • The team at American Spine explains the many benefits of social support for those suffering from chronic pain.

Social support in the realm of pain management is often defined as assistance and encouragement of care by family, friends, and health care providers. This type of support may be shown through physically performing activities to help a pain patient handle daily life, or by providing emotional support to help patients get through depression, anxiety, and stress. According to a team of researchers and clinicians at the VA Connecticut Healthcare System in West Haven, CT, social support may increase the likelihood of a “clinically meaningful” improvement in patients with chronic pain symptoms.

The facility surveyed 290 combat veterans (41% male, 59% female) who were involved in military conflicts. During the examinations, clinicians assessed the patients’ ages, pain severity, combat exposure, depressive symptoms, and social support mechanisms, among other biological factors (gender, race, etc.). Researchers designated “clinically meaningful” improvement ratings to patients who reported a pain reduction greater than 20% from the baseline, which was determined by the researchers using the Brief Pain Inventory test. 

The study found veterans with greater amounts of social support were more likely to report a 30% reduction in pain severity over 12 months. Dr. Mary A. Driscoll, an advanced fellow in Women’s Health at VA Connecticut Healthcare mentioned the sample was drawn from a cohort study that examined health care utilization, health outcomes, and costs of care among men and women veterans. Dr. Driscoll noted, “It is a sample of veterans who reported having pain, but they may not have been seeking treatment for it.”

Although these findings are preliminary, Dr. Driscoll believes social support may be a viable treatment “target” for patients with chronic pain. The pain management physicians at American Spine agree that it’s important to have the support of family, friends, and providers to improve chronic pain symptoms. With that, the team is adamant about providing patients with experiences that allow them to relate to their physicians and feel supported before, during, and after treatment.

At American Spine, we are dedicated to treating chronic pain and spine conditions. Offering the latest in minimally invasive spine surgery and other effective treatment options, American Spine is the leading pain physician group of California. For more information or to schedule an appointment, please call us at (951)-734-PAIN (7246).

The advice and information contained in this article is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace or counter a physician’s advice or judgment. Please always consult your physician before taking any advice learned here or in any other educational medical material.