Chronic pain is widespread. In fact, 50.2 million adults in the United States live with chronic pain–that’s 20.5 percent! However, the experience can feel isolating nonetheless. Sometimes, you need to hear from someone who walks in the same shoes. Without further ado, here are some chronic pain quotes to turn to whether you need validation, empathy, or words to help describe your experience.

Chronic pain quotes for the rough days

Whether you need a boost or human understanding, here are some quotes for the rough days. 

“Some people think that to be strong is to never feel pain. IN REALITY, the strongest people are the ones who feel it, understand it, and accept it.” – William Jackson 

“Usually, I take this opportunity to say something inspiring, about how my illness has changed me for the better and given me a clear purpose in life for both the work I do and the person I want to be. While all these things are true, the fact is that sometimes I’m in a physical state where I just don’t have it in me to be inspirational. And that’s all right – inspirational words are meaningless without the context of genuine human struggle.” – Michael Bihovsky

“If opening your eyes or getting out of bed or holding a spoon or combing your hair is the daunting Mt. Everest you climb today, that is more than okay.” – Carmen Ambrosio

“Those of us with chronic pain have something unique to offer, not in spite of our pain, but because of it.” – Allison Alexander

Quotes on the reality of pain

It’s important to acknowledge your feelings. Positivity, overall, is health-promoting, but emotional repression and toxic positivity – the expectance that one should be positive all of the time – is not. Sometimes, the healthiest thing to do is to say, “I’m frustrated, I’m down, and this is tough.” Here are some quotes on the reality of pain.

“That pain moves when you move; it mutters between every breath; it spikes your ears; it rips. You think pain can’t be any more horrible than that. Until you discover that the well is bottomless. There’s always more.” – Ilsa J. Bick,

“I’m in pain all the time,’ I said, ‘and if I gave into it then I’d do nothing.” – Bernard Cornwell

“Having a chronic illness, Molly thought, was like being invaded. Her grandmother back in Michigan used to tell about the day one of their cows got loose and wandered into the parlor, and the awful time they had getting her out. That was exactly what Molly’s arthritis was like: as if some big old cow had got into her house and wouldn’t go away. It just sat there, taking up space in her life and making everything more difficult, mooing loudly from time to time and making cow pies, and all she could do really was edge around it and put up with it.

When other people first became aware of the cow, they expressed concern and anxiety. They suggested strategies for getting the animal out of Molly’s parlor: remedies and doctors and procedures, some mainstream and some New Age. They related anecdotes of friends who had removed their own cows in one way or another. But after a while they had exhausted their suggestions. Then they usually began to pretend that the cow wasn’t there, and they preferred for Molly to go along with the pretense.” – The Last Resort by Alison Lurie 

“I want to be better than my pain, but I cannot will my way through it. I have willed my way through so much pain in my life, and now I have come up against pain that is bigger than my will.” – Sonya Huber

Quotes on chronic pain and grief

Though some grieve what they’ve never had and others grieve what they used to, chronic pain can come with a great deal of grief. Here are some quotes on the grief of chronic pain.

“I started feeling afraid of my own body, like it was a torture chamber I’d been trapped inside.” – 

Talia Hibbert

“I’m tired of things I love being gone forever. I didn’t think there was room in me for any more holes, but that’s all I am now, a collection of empty spaces where things were ripped away.” – Laura Tims

“Surrender is an incredibly difficult topic in light of chronic illness because loss is often continued and sustained.” – Cindee Snider Re

“If I only could explain 

How much I miss

that precious moment 

when I was free

from the shackles of chronic pain.” – Jenni Johanna Toivonen

On being misunderstood

One of the most challenging parts of chronic pain can be how little others understand. The stigma and misconceptions are very real, and they hurt. Here are some quotes to validate that experience.

“Often, the pain that makes us feel most stuck is not our suffering; it is experiencing distress in the presence of people who expect us to get better faster than we can.” – K.J. Ramsey

“The stigma of chronic pain is one of the most difficult aspects of living with chronic pain. If you have chronic pain, people can sometimes judge you for it. Specifically, they can sometimes disapprovingly judge you for how you are coping with it. If you rest or nap because of the pain, they think you rest or nap too much. If they catch you crying, they become impatient and think you cry too much. If you don’t work because of the pain, you face scrutiny over why you don’t. If you go to your healthcare provider, they ask, “Are you going to the doctor again?” Maybe, they think that you take too many medications. In any of these ways, they disapprove of how you are coping with pain. These disapproving judgments are the stigma of living with chronic pain.” – Murray J. McAlister

“I often wished that more people understood the invisible side of things. Even the people who seemed to understand, didn’t really.” – Jennifer Starzec

“One thing I hate about being ill is that no one believes it unless I share it all with them, and even then, they don’t act on it.”- Gillian Polack

Chronic pain quotes on acceptance 

Many find that acceptance plays a crucial role in their life with chronic pain. Here are some quotes on acceptance.

“Do not resist the pain. Allow it to be there. Surrender to the grief, despair, fear, loneliness, or whatever form the suffering takes. Witness it without labeling it mentally. Embrace it. Then see how the miracle of surrender transmutes deep suffering into deep peace. This is your crucifixion. Let it become your resurrection and ascension.” – Eckhart Tolle

“Hoping for the best, prepared for the worst, and unsurprised by anything in between.” – Maya Angelou

On empathy

Empathy, rather than advice, can be the life-changing hand up that a person needs. Here’s a word on empathy:

“Empathy is an act of the imagination that grows from a gut-twinge of sympathy, a notion that I would not like to feel what that poor other person is feeling. We override our own flinching instinct to ask what another person’s suffering might feel like.” – Sonya Huber


Some things in life, we don’t have full control over–the above quotes clearly reflect how that reality impacts those with chronic pain.

For many people in the world, chronic pain is one of those struggles. However, it doesn’t mean that you can’t live a fulfilling life, and for all of the people who don’t understand, there is someone else out there who does.

No matter who you are, support from other people is a crucial piece in caring for your emotional well-being. Whether you utilize a peer support network like Supportiv, join a support group for those with chronic pain, or use any other avenue you can to connect with people who get it, it can make a difference in your life and symptom management.