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"Spoonies" Daily Struggle with Chronic Pain

Explain Pain Via Metaphor

Among its many other issues, chronic pain makes daily living harder. Those with chronic pain—whether from migraine, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, or something else—may not be able to explain why they can’t attend a barbeque, or clean, or read to a child. A woman with lupus, writer Christine Miserandino, came up with the spoon theory in 2003. The way she expressed her situation to others can also useful to patients of practitioners. The spoon theory explains that people in pain, sometimes called "Spoonies," only have so many spoons to use per day. The spoons represent the limited amount of energy that chronic pain patients have. So, if your spoons are used up in the morning while making breakfast or getting to work, you may not have enough spoons/energy later and may have trouble focusing, sleeping, or being intimate with a partner.

“The spoon theory is a self-pacing strategy that emphasizes the need for chronic pain patients to work to a certain quota. Patients have to be economical in how they spread the use of their spoons in their daily activity,” says clinical psychologist Becky Bikat Tilahun, PhD. Practitioners should be aware that, “With the right interventions and therapies, [patient] quality of life can be restored despite the pain.”


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