Best Chronic Pain Support Groups
Find a community that will help you heal
Fact checked by James Lacy Updated on May 25, 2021Print Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our review process here. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.
With chronic pain at epidemic levels, the need for support groups is huge. Living with pain is hard, and most people who haven’t dealt with it don’t understand the struggles.1
Chronic pain comes in many forms and from many causes: systemic conditions such as arthritis and fibromyalgia; combat injuries in veterans; and localized discomfort such as back pain, headaches and migraines. Repetitive stress disorders, and lingering pain from surgery or injury can also be the cause.
Meanwhile, many doctors aren’t well trained in how to treat chronic pain.2 Some people in your life may not understand or even believe your pain is real. This can all leave people with chronic pain isolated and desperate for relief.
That’s where support groups come in, providing a safe place where you can find emotional support and learn about treatments and management strategies. You have a lot of options, with support groups existing online, in local communities, and even over the phone. See our picks below for the best chronic pain support groups and find the one that’s right for you.
The 6 Best Chronic Pain Support Groups of 2021
- Best Overall: National Fibromyalgia & Chronic Pain Association
- Best for Families: Pain Connection
- Best for Online Forums: The Mighty
- Best for Forming Supportive Relationships: MyChronicPainTeam
- Best for Structure: Chronic Pain Anonymous
- Best for Finding or Starting Local Support Groups: American Chronic Pain Association
Best Chronic Pain Support Groups
- National Fibromyalgia & Chronic Pain Association
- Pain Connection
- The Mighty
- Chronic Pain Anonymous
- American Chronic Pain Association
BEST OVERALLNational Fibromyalgia & Chronic Pain Association
The National Fibromyalgia & Chronic Pain Association (NFMCPA) offers support groups and a wealth of other resources. While memberships are available, you’ll never be required to join. Anyone can use the resources and join the communities for free.
The organization hosts support communities for anyone with chronic pain and specifically for people with fibromyalgia, including subgroups with narrower focuses, such as being newly diagnosed, current research, treatment types, symptoms, coping, and more.
The site also offers educational articles on a variety of related topics and maintains lists of local support groups to help you find one in your community. Under the resources section, you’ll find a database of chronic pain and fibromyalgia healthcare providers.
The NFMCPA is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. While its resources are free to use, the organization encourages people to pay a small fee to help support it.
BEST FOR FAMILIESPain Connection
Pain Connection offers support through several free programs, both local and over video. The website has a list of the in-person support groups it hosts around the country in Michigan, Massachusetts, Ohio, Iowa, California, and more (and many also hold video meetings). While there aren’t too many just yet, the organization offers training to anyone who’d like to start one in their area.
If you can’t make it to an in-person meeting, you can sign up for regular Pain Connection Live video conference support groups. You need to register ahead of time, but there’s no fee. Video conferences are offered at a variety of times and days to accommodate different schedules.
Additionally, Pain Connection has a program called Pediatric Pain Warriors that focuses on children and their families/caregivers. Pediatric Pain Warriors aims to “provide resources, education, support, and retreats for all affected by pediatric pain.” Currently, it connects kids with pain through a pen-pal program called PainPals. The program also includes webinars and retreats for kids with chronic pain and their families.
Pain Connection is part of the U.S. Pain Foundation, which is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.
BEST FOR ONLINE FORUMSThe Mighty
The Mighty is a social media site that offers support forums for people with a wide array of health problems—more than 600, according to the site—including chronic pain and its associated conditions. If you live with several ailments (as many people with chronic pain do), you may be able to find a support group for all of them on this one site.
Founded in 2014, The Mighty’s goal has always been to help people. It’s supported by advertising revenues, but the ads are subtle and are not disruptive as you post or browse the site.
The Mighty’s forums are informally structured to allow you to browse conversations and join in easily. The site works to maintain a positive and supportive environment. Membership is required, but it’s free. Because only members can see your posts, you don’t have to worry about your health information being visible on the internet.
A benefit of online forums like this is that you can log on at any time. However, there’s no guarantee that other people will respond to your posts right away. If you’re looking for a structured group with set meeting times, this may not be the right format for you.
BEST FOR FORMING SUPPORTIVE RELATIONSHIPSMyChronicPainTeam
Similar to The Mighty—but with a less cluttered design and a more intimate feeling—is MyChronicPainTeam. It’s part of a network called MyHealthTeams that hosts online support forums for 40 different health conditions, including rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, spondylitis, migraine, food allergies, and irritable bowel syndrome. These communities are available online and via mobile apps with a free membership.
Once you join, you can create a profile, share your story, and begin posting. Like The Mighty, it’s an unstructured forum where you can drop in and chat whenever you want.
MyHealthTeams is a venture-capital-backed independent company. The website says the company’s vision is to provide “safe, objective, patient-driven social networks.” The main page has a link to crisis networks such as suicide and abuse hotlines and websites as well.
If you have a problem with sensory overload, this site may be better for you than some of the others. The design is cleaner and simpler, with a lot of white space and no screaming colors that can be overwhelming to those with fibromyalgia and similar conditions.
BEST FOR STRUCTUREChronic Pain Anonymous
Chronic Pain Anonymous (CPA) offers a 12-step program for living with chronic pain. This is similar to programs for addiction, such as Alcoholics Anonymous, but the organizations are not related.
The organization’s mission statement is: “To invite all people living with chronic pain or chronic illness to accept the serenity to live one day at a time, enjoying one moment at a time, and viewing hardship as a pathway to peace. We trust that as we surrender to a Power greater than ourselves, we will find strength and an unfathomable peace.”
The sessions are structured to guide you through the 12 Steps. (Please note that the 12 Steps are largely based on a belief in God or a higher power, so this program may not be appropriate for people who aren’t religious or spiritual).
CPA offers face-to-face meetings in a few locations across the country, like Arizona, Hawaii, Pennsylvania, and more, as well as online, Zoom-based meetings.
The organization sells a book to go along with the program, but it’s not required, and there are no membership dues or fees. CPA also offers training materials for people who’d like to start a group in their own community and is a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.
BEST FOR FINDING OR STARTING LOCAL SUPPORT GROUPSAmerican Chronic Pain Association
The American Chronic Pain Association (ACPA) hosts local support groups nationwide. It currently has communities in most states that you can find in an easy-to-use list. If there’s not one near you, you can contact them about starting an ACPA support group in your community.
According to the site, the goal of an ACPA group is “to provide support, validation, and education in basic pain management and life skills.” Group members facilitate meetings, and they do not focus on symptoms or provide treatment of any kind. Rather, they are a means for people to share what they have learned and to encourage others to create more satisfying lives.
The ACPA website offers some resources as well, including educational information, current news related to chronic pain, information on up-to-date research, and a newsletter. You don’t need to be a member to attend support group meetings. If you want to become a member of the organization, you can do so for a donation of roughly $25 or more.
ACPA is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.
What Are Chronic Pain Support Groups?
Chronic pain support groups may meet in person, online, or over the telephone with the goal of providing emotional support, friendship, and possibly education about pain conditions, treatment, and management strategies.
What Do They Cost?
Many support groups are available for free, but some may charge a fee. Others, especially those supported by nonprofit organizations, may ask for donations to help fund the group.
How Are Chronic Pain Support Groups Structured?
Structures of support groups vary. Some are focused around a central program, while others are less formal. Typically, in groups with meetings, organizers will select a theme or topic, and they may provide resources such as informational packets or special speakers. Online forums are the least structured, with people dropping in at their convenience.
Is a Chronic Pain Support Group Right for Me?
To decide whether a chronic pain support group might be right for you, ask yourself some questions:
- Do you feel isolated because of your chronic pain?
- Do you need more emotional support?
- Do you feel like no one in your life understands what you’re going through?
- Do you need help finding ways to cope with your pain?
If you said yes to any of those questions, a support group might be able to help.
You may need to visit several communities before you find one that’s the right fit for you. No one group is going to be right for everyone. As you search, think about whether you’d prefer a free-flowing structure that you can visit anytime, a regularly scheduled meeting, one-on-one phone support, or something else.
Because chronic pain can make it hard to attend in-person meetings regularly, many people living with it opt for online support groups or forums. And, of course, you can always belong to more than one.
How We Chose the Best Chronic Pain Groups
The support groups in this list are all free, accepting of anyone with chronic pain, and are backed by a well-respected charitable organization or company that’s specifically dedicated to providing services (and not products) to people with chronic health conditions.
They have positive reviews online and easy-to-use features. Many of them offer an excellent array of resources, such as the NFMCPA’s educational articles and Pain Connection’s call-in groups, or a forum that’s well-formatted and moderated to make it a positive experience, such as The Mighty and MyChronicPainTeam.
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- Tellier PP, Bélanger E, Rodríguez C, Ware MA, Posel N. Improving undergraduate medical education about pain assessment and management: a qualitative descriptive study of stakeholders’ perceptions. Pain Res Manag. 2013;18(5):259-65. doi:10.1155/2013/920961