• Dr Kendra Clifford ND

The Subtle Signs Someone is in Pain

People with chronic pain and/or chronic illness will often hide their symptoms from you. They don't want you to think they're complaining or whining all of the time, and to them it's just a part of their daily life. Here are some signs your loved one is in physical pain:


  • Changes in their normal movements: this may include changes to the way they walk (gait), or to the way they sit or stand.

  • Sitting or lying down in weird or awkward positions: for those suffering from chronic pain once you find a comfortable position (no matter what it looks like) you're going to stay there as they may be few and far between

  • Always appearing fatigued or exhausted: physical pain goes beyond the observable. Dealing with pain, doctors appointments, and other aspects of their condition can be very draining. Plus pain can play a huge role on your mental health which may leave your loved one appearing to lack the energy required to seem enthusiastic about many things

  • Not smiling or laughing often: when you are in physical pain it is often hard to control your facial expression. People may think you are angry, zoned out, ignoring them, or sad.

  • They may withdraw from social situations: being in pain constantly puts a huge toll on an individual, both mentally and physically.

  • Some people may be irritable, or short tempered

  • Some other non-verbal indicators that someone is in pain include: shortness of breath, increased breathing rate, or higher blood pressure


Everyone experiences pain differently - some people may show many signs, and some may show very few. Also everyone has their own pain tolerance - many people with chronic pain are so used to their own pain sensation that they may be able to tolerate more than the average person. This is why we get individuals to rate their own pain using a scale such as:

  • The numerical rating scale: rating your pain on a scale of 1-10 with 1 = no pain, and 10 = the worst most excruciating pain you have ever felt

  • The Wong-Baker Faces Scale: using the individuals combined rating along with facial expression to determine their pain level


All together pain is an individual experience. If you feel like your loved one is in pain have a conversation (without judgement) with them. Try to support them in any way you can.


This post is intended for educational purposes only and should not be substituted for medical advice


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