Sometimes in life we face issues that we cannot deal with on our own. Even our families and friends may not understand what we are going through, especially when we’re suffering from a chronic condition. When this happens, finding a support group with people who understand what you are going through can be crucial to your healing process. But how to find support groups that are active and positive? This post explores two of the ways, through local or online support groups.
How to find support groups for pain: The basics
Your first goal is to find a positive, upbeat group that will listen without judgment and offer advice when needed. The group should also meet regularly, even if it is only once a month. Some people thrive on a been-there-done-that atmosphere and just need that empathy to help get them through difficult times or issues.
Whether you are dealing with issues of mental health, chronic pain, addiction, or any other problem, support may be hard to find at home or in your community. Maybe you are living in a rural setting, and there just aren’t many people, let alone fellow chronic pain sufferers. Maybe you have been dealing with chronic pain for years and feel like you have exhausted your support system. Whatever the reason, it may be time to look for another option: a pain support group.
For anyone suffering from chronic pain, a little bit of support can go a long way. Many people these days turn immediately to the internet. From Googling to settle a bet to researching a doctoral thesis, people are relying more and more on the internet for help. The same goes for support groups. If you suffer from chronic pain, mental health issues, grief and loss, or any other number of issues, sometimes a support group is the best way to go. But is it better to talk face-to-face in a local group, or do online groups provide more support?
Online vs. local support groups
Both local and online support groups have pros and cons.
Face-to-face groups provide a human connection. You meet with real people who can hug you, hold your hand, and be physically present with you. The value of human interaction is well-documented. Support groups that meet in person also have the benefit of understanding local references and culture. Maybe your small town has certain quirks to its character that only locals can understand. Additionally, local support groups can offer local suggestions as far as other resources for help and support go.
The same positive reasons for local support groups may be negatives for some and turn them towards online support.
Maybe you are suffering from a mental health issue that you don’t want broadcast over the entire town; online groups offer more anonymity and may make you feel more comfortable speaking frankly. Online groups also pull members from all over the world and can host larger numbers of people who can add to the pool of experience. A final benefit of an online group is that they are truly come-as-you-are, and meetings are on your own time. Whether you join a message board or “attend” virtual, scheduled meetings, no one will know if you are in your pajamas or three-sizes-too-big sweatpants.
With every positive comes a potential downside, too: online support groups mean you never need to leave the house. This could be a very negative thing if what you need is to experience more of life outside of your four walls. Varying schedules and time zones mean that you cannot always count on people to be around or available when you need them. Finally, the anonymity of an online group means that people may be more comfortable responding inappropriately or in a way that takes advantage of vulnerable people.
How to find the best support group for you
Depending on the cause of your pain, you may want to start with one of these posts. Below, we’ll give more information on other local and online options.
- “20 Of The Best Online And Local Lupus Support Groups“
- “How to Find The Best Fibromyalgia Support Groups“
- “5 Chronic Pain Support Groups Online“
- “Where To Find Caregiver Support Groups Online And In Person”
How to find support groups online for chronic pain
If you do choose to go with online support, there are many positives to online pain support groups. Online groups draw members from all over the world and can host larger numbers of people who add to the pool of experience.
While it may be difficult to find a fellow chronic pain sufferer in your small community, the numbers don’t lie: approximately 60 million adults are diagnosed with chronic pain annually. There will be people who understand what you are going through.
Pain Doctor hosts a number of online pain support group options. We maintain an active presence on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. While our YouTube channel is mainly informational in nature, Twitter and Facebook make it easy to connect with others who are looking for an online pain support group that is interactive and welcoming.
Finally, come join over 39,000 patients who are struggling with pain on Pain Doctor’s online chronic pain support page. If you ever needed to know that you are truly not alone in your struggle as a chronic pain patient, this is the place to find community. Chronic pain caregivers are represented here as well, but this page is mainly for other chronic pain patients to connect with each other.
As always, staying safe online is a high priority when looking for a pain support group. The anonymity of an online group means that people may be more comfortable responding inappropriately or in a way that takes advantage of vulnerable people. All of Pain Doctor’s online support offerings are moderated and maintain a civil and appropriate comment policy so that you can feel safe in your interactions through our platforms.
How to find local support groups
If you choose to go with local support, there are some tried and true ways to find ones in your community.
Look in the local free weekly
Many communities publish a local paper that lists support groups or clubs. This is a great place to start. Bulletin boards at community centers or grocery stores are a good place to look, too.
Ask someone who you know has experienced the same issue
If you know of someone who has struggled in the past with a similar issue, ask them for a referral or suggestions for local groups. They may be able to give you helpful feedback on any groups they have attended or contacts they have made.
Check with a church
If you are a member of a religious community, see if there are any support groups already in place. If you prefer to remain more anonymous (or at least less well-known), inquire at another church or non-denominational religious institution in your community (the Ba’hai community accepts all religions).
Call your local health clinic or hospital
Some health organizations have local support groups that use their facilities, or they may be able to recommend a local group. Checking with your family doctor or pain specialist is a great place to start, as well.
Search online for local groups
This is probably the simplest answer, but sometimes smaller local groups do not advertise or post online. It is worth a quick search just in case. We’ll cover the benefits of larger online groups in more detail tomorrow on the blog.
If all else fails, start your own
Most public libraries offer free rooms for local groups to meet. Maybe your community needs the group you need. Build your support network together!
How to stay safe in support groups
Remember that you want your experience to be supportive and positive. This is not to say that talking about your issues won’t be difficult or painful, but don’t stay with a group that makes you feel negative after each meeting. You want to feel supported and validated, and you should find a group in which you feel comfortable sharing what might be very personal.
Each member of the group should be committed to respecting the privacy of the group members, and the goal should be empathy and proactive solutions. If you feel belittled or berated by the end of each meeting, go elsewhere for support. If someone is harassing you online through the support group, make sure and report that activity. Look for online groups that have active, caring moderators, and feel free to sign up for and participate in several groups to find a good fit.
When you needed support, how did you find a support group that worked for you? Know of any great ones? Leave your recommendations in the comments!
And, if you need advanced help with pain, you can find a pain doctor in your area by clicking the button below or looking for one in your area by using the tips here: https://paindoctor.com/pain-management-doctors/.