The 6 million Canadians who live with pain carry a unique bundle of burdens. Beyond the actual physical sensation of pain, the costs of pain can be far-reaching and life-changing, affecting the day-to-day life of the one in pain and those close to them in many unexpected and challenging ways.

The personal burdens of pain

For those living with it, pain can be devastating and disruptive to the flow of life. With pain, you may feel unable to go to work, to interact with friends and family, or to do your usual daily life activities. Pain can interfere with sleep and affect your mood. This loss of ability and independence can, in turn, affect your sense of self-worth and self-esteem.

The cold, hard fact is that pain affects a person's quality of life in significant ways. In fact, compared to people living with other chronic diseases, those with chronic pain have a lower quality of life and a higher risk of suicide.

Because pain is not visible like a rash or sudden like a heart attack, a person with pain may be doubted by doctors, co-workers, employers, and even by friends and family.

The impact of pain on friends and family

Pain burdens the person feeling the pain, but it can also weigh on those around them in many ways.

Family and friends experience the emotional stress of seeing someone they care about dealing with pain. This can lead to feelings of sadness - imagine the sting of no longer being able to hold or carry your children. Or lead to feelings of anger or resentment for the effort and attention that must be given to the person in pain.

Relatives often become caregivers, sacrificing their own time and energy to attend to tasks that have become difficult for the one in pain. Household members may see roles and responsibilities switch to accommodate the needs of the one in pain. And the financial burden of pain - health care costs, lost workdays - can become a point of intense stress in a family.

The financial costs of pain

Many with moderate to severe chronic pain are forced to cut back on work hours, reduce responsibilities, lose income, or even abandon their jobs completely. And a person living with pain will likely not only lose income - they will also gain expenses from treatments and medications.

In broader terms, pain comes with a very high price tag. The cost of chronic pain in Canada is estimated at more than $10 billion each year. This includes the costs of lost income, lost productivity, and the expenses of medical treatments.

Fortunately, pain can be managed and even relieved through the right treatment. Learn more about the importance of pain control, how to manage pain and pain medications, as well as the services available through specialized pain clinics.