Best Chronic Pain Support Groups

Find a community that will help you heal

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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.

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. Some people in your life may not understand or even believe your pain is real. This can all leave people with chronic pain feeling isolated and desperate for relief.

That’s where support groups come in: They provide 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


National Fibromyalgia & Chronic Pain Association

National Fibromyalgia & Chronic Pain Association

Key Specs

  • Membership fee: Free, donations encouraged
  • Structure: Online forums and resources

Why We Chose It: The NFMCPA hosts support communities and an abundance of resources for people with chronic pain and specifically for those with fibromyalgia.

Pros
  • Free to join

  • Subgroups for specific interests and topics

  • Educational articles

  • No membership required to use

Cons
  • No live chat

  • Offerings are a bit basic

  • No professional support

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 Families : Pain Connection


Pain Connection

Pain Connection

Key Specs

  • Membership fee: Free
  • Structure: Live video conference groups, in-person support groups

Why We Chose It: With Pain Connection, you can receive support specifically for children and families through several free programs.

Pros
  • Several schedules for video conferences

  • Special program for children and families/caregivers

  • Pen-pal program

  • Retreats for kids/families

Cons
  • In-person groups only in select locations

  • No one-on-one professional support

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 Forums : The Mighty


The Mighty

The Mighty

Key Specs

  • Membership fee: Free
  • Structure: Online forums

Why We Chose It: Offering support for more than 600 health problems, The Mighty hosts positive and supportive communities that connect through online forums.

Pros
  • Support groups for more than 600 health ailments

  • Easy to post and join conversations

  • Only members see your posts

Cons
  • Not ideal for those who need structured support groups

  • Not specifically for people with chronic pain

  • Site is very basic and has some loading issues

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 Relationships : MyChronicPainTeam


MyChronicPainTeam

MyChronicPainTeam

Key Specs

  • Membership fee: Free
  • Structure: Online forums

Why We Chose It: MyChronicPainTeam has easy-to-navigate support forums for 40 health conditions available online and via mobile apps.

Pros
  • Also offers an app

  • Clean, user-friendly interface

  • Get/give instant “hugs,” likes and comments

Cons
  • Some have reported registration issues

  • Somewhat basic interface

  • No professional support

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 Structure : Chronic Pain Anonymous


Chronic Pain Anonymous

Chronic Pain Anonymous

Key Specs

  • Membership fee: Free
  • Structure: In-person and Zoom meetings

Why We Chose It: Chronic Pain Anonymous provides support for people living with chronic pain with a 12-step program that features in-person or Zoom meetings.

Pros
  • Offers structure with a 12-step program

  • Offers trainings for people looking to start a group

  • Resources are available

Cons
  • May not be appropriate for people who aren’t religious or spiritual

  • Face-to-face meetings only available in select locations

  • Resemblance to Alcoholics Anonymous may impact experience

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 Groups : American Chronic Pain Association


American Chronic Pain Association

American Chronic Pain Association

Key Specs

  • Membership fee: Free to join support groups; donation of about $25 for membership to the organization
  • Structure: In-person and Zoom meetings, phone support

Why We Chose It: If you’re looking to start a local support group or community, the American Chronic Pain Association provides resources and educational information to help you begin.

Pros
  • Lots of resources of available

  • Offers meetings in both in-person and Zoom formats

  • Allows you to start a local group

Cons
  • Supports groups currently only in select states

  • No online forums for 24/7 support

  • No professional support

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.

Final Verdict

Chronic pain is a major health problem that as many as 20% of people in the United States and Europe live with. Chronic pain support groups can be a place for you to share experiences and learn from others, discuss pain management and coping strategies and just feel supported and less alone. You can join most of these support groups for free and online forums mean you can post and receive support at any time of the day. Ultimately which one you choose will be dependent on your location, needs, and budget.

Compare Chronic Pain Support Groups

Chronic Pain Support Groups Membership Structure
National Fibromyalgia & Chronic Pain Association Best Overall Free, donations encouraged Online forums and resources
Pain Connection
Best for Families
Free Live video conference groups, in-person support groups
The Mighty
Best for Online Forums
Free Online forums
MyChronicPainTeam
Best for Forming Supportive Relationships
Free Online forums
Chronic Pain Anonymous Best for Structure Free In-person and Zoom meetings
American Chronic Pain Association
Best for Finding or Starting Local Support Groups
Free to join support groups; donation of about $25 for membership to the organization In-person and Zoom meetings, phone support

FAQs

What Causes Chronic Pain?

Chronic pain can be caused by a number of different things including injuries sustained, muscle and spinal pain, headaches and migraines, stress and anxiety, and neurological disorders like fibromyalgia and arthritis. 

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.

Methodology

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.

Additional reporting by Ally Hirschlag.

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3 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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