The internet can be a blessing or a curse. A notable drain on our time—we can spend hours of our lives, floating around online, doing not too much of anything. But there is a big upside to the internet, and that can be summed up in one word: information.
The internet is bursting with resources for chronic pain support, including support groups and forums, Pinterest boards, Instagram accounts, and Twitter feeds. This torrential stream of social media can be a blessing for those suffering from chronic pain. Here are just a few of our favorite resources online.
Online support and forums
Online chronic pain support groups can be invaluable, especially on those days when getting out of the house is not an option. As we’ve discussed before, our partner PainDoctor.com, manages a robust chronic pain forum, Facebook support group, and Faces of Pain site. There are even more pages out there, though, providing support.
Daily Strength has an active chronic pain support community that is moderated and up-to-date, both positive qualities for an online support group. There are many other support groups, and the key is to find a good fit for you.
Forums are another good way to get support online. In a forum, you can post questions, successes, challenges, or anything else in a moderated space. Members of the forum will respond if they have something to offer. The same rules for forums apply as for online support groups (moderated, active, and recent posts), but online forums also have other categories for members that don’t specifically deal with chronic pain. This can be a nice break and a good way to get to know other people separate from their condition.
Famous for spreading rumors and sharing family photos, Facebook can also offer an excellent way to stay in touch with fellow chronic pain sufferers and physicians, including your doctor! Many physicians are now using Facebook to organize their practices, offering scheduling options and access to their websites in one easy place. New research, treatments, articles, and funny memes are also a great feature of many Facebook pages that offer chronic pain support. Pain Doctor and Holistic Pain are two pages with recipes, research, and updated conference dates and treatment options
Pinterest boards are a great way to make a note of resources, inspirational stories, recipes, and more. It can be addictive, with one interesting board leading to another. The good news is that each board can be easily named and organized so you can keep all of your information in neat categories. In many ways, Pinterest replaces bookmarking websites, with the added bonus of being able to access your Pinterest page from any computer.
Faces of Pain is a Pinterest board created by those who are suffering from chronic pain. It’s easy to post a picture and share your story with people who understand what you are going through!
A simple search for chronic pain support on Pinterest also brings up a variety of helpful and varied sites to choose from, including
- 12 Nice Things You Can Do For Someone In Pain
- Stretches For Fibromyalgia
- 9 Natural Remedies For Psoriatic Arthritis
- Healing Back Pain Naturally
As of April 29, 2014, 255 million people sent over 400 million tweets a day through this highly interactive social media platform. The potential for inspiration, support, information, and updated research on chronic pain is endless. Doctors from all over the world are on Twitter, as are chronic pain patients and their families.
@DrNinaRadcliff is a practicing physician sharing information and promoting Pain Awareness Month with her tweets, while @Chritty77 shares her experiences as a patient: “Carpal tunnel in both hands, RA, patella tendonitis, bursitis in both hips, fibromyalgia from head to toe!…#blessed!”
From gathering information to finding kindred spirits, Twitter is a great way to connect and find support for chronic pain sufferers. A simple search of the hashtag #chronicpain yields wide and varied results, including online “meetups” and up-to-date research. It’s a great way to get support in 140 characters or less!
Tumblr is a blog, a video sharing service, a meme generator, and so much more. With many different blogs devoted to dealing with the daily ups and downs of chronic pain, Tumblr offers users the chance to tell their own story while following the stories of others. From short, pithy updates to longer blogs with pictures and videos to links to YouTube videos, Tumblr has something for every attention span!
Instagram can be a useful tool for helping increase positive feelings. Designed to share photos with quick captions, Instagram now enables you to post a 15-second video. They have also introduced a new feature called Hyperlapse. This allows users to record 45-seconds of video and speed it up to ten times. The video is stabilized and can compress action into a time-lapse-looking video.
So what does this do to support chronic pain patients? As with Twitter and Tumblr, patients can use hashtags to search for relevant keywords, including those for inspiration. Elephant Journal is a great example of this; they include articles and internet memes that are thought-provoking and remind people to be hopeful and look forward. You can search hashtags like #chronicpain or #invisibleillness or specific users to find kindred spirits who use faith and humor to cope with their chronic pain.
Google may be the easiest social media tool to use if you already have an account. You simply log into your Google account and access the Google+ tab to get started. You can search by users or keywords to find relevant posts and people, then invite them to join your circles.
Google+ uses online hangouts of up to ten people at a time, plus Facebook-like interfaces to bring together people around issues or interests. After joining Google+, you can organize friends, families, acquaintances, or other people into “circles,” which you can then send messages to or notify of new content you have found or would like to share.
How have you used social media to manage your chronic pain?
Image by Jason Howie via Flickr