5 of the Biggest Myths about Chronic Pain

Pain Management Jan 10, 2017

Chronic pain is a sadly misunderstood topic – and it’s easy to see why. It’s not exactly natural, nor intuitive to experience pain on a constant level – and when you are subjected to pain, it’s hard to constructively think or analyze the situation.

Understanding the Basics

This isn’t a well-defined condition, in that some of its mechanisms are still relatively unknown to us, and there’s no way to tell what the underlying cause of the condition is in one patient to the next without a careful, professional diagnosis. However, the actual definition of this type of pain is simple, and well-known – and may help shatter some of the first few myths associated with this dreadful condition.

As a medical condition, this type of pain can be defined as any pain lasting more than 12 weeks. Note that there is a difference between acute pain and chronic pain: that difference lies in the duration and intensity. Acute pain is normal, natural, and wholly necessary for the basic function of a human body.  Pain that is chronic, however, is not that. It’s like an alarm system gone rogue, in the worst of ways. Before anyone can help fix your condition, however, you must first understand what it is – and what it isn’t.

Without pain, we’re much more likely to injure ourselves, or even die of genetic or unforeseen complications without any warning signs, including common medical conditions like appendicitis. To make things easy and clarify some of the biggest questions surrounding pain, we’ll tackle five common myths.

Myth 1: It’s all in your Head

We can all trace the origins of this thought. You feel pain – it’s sharp, or dull, or it comes and goes, but in every case, it’s pain that has been there for weeks and just isn’t going away. So you go to the doctor and hope for a sound and clear-cut medical diagnosis that won’t set ablaze your finances, or increase your risk of a heart attack.

Instead, you’re told that there is no apparent physical cause for your pain. Your first natural reasoning?

“Well, then it must be in my head.”

There is a definition for this – it’s called psychosomatic pain. However, psychosomatic pain isn’t chronic pain, and it’s rare that the origin of your pain is actually psychological in nature. Most of the time, the keyword here is that the doctor said “apparent physical cause” – this pain is still a treatable condition that can be traced to a malfunction in your nervous system, and it must be managed, not ignored.

Myth 2: Rest is the Cure-all for Pain.

Short-term rest can help the body recuperate physically and psychologically after a long, stressful day – but opting to be bed-ridden because of your pain won’t help your body magically set itself right again because pain is often something that won’t just fix itself like a cut or a bruise would.

Instead, you should try and be more active. Light activity and exercise can alleviate the symptoms of pain by flooding your brain with dopamine and other endorphins, even in cases of fibromyalgia, which is a condition of widespread physical pain, moodiness and memory problems.

There is a limit to how much time you should be spending hitting the weights, of course. Sometimes, chronic pain may mask a different ache, and putting your body under excessive stress isn’t the best response to that.

Myth 3: Prescription Medication isn’t Addictive when you’re actually in Pain  

It’s common knowledge that pain medication, often in the form of opioids and benzodiazepines, is addictive. They’re not exactly as effective in getting people hooked as heroin is, but prescription drug abuse is still a concern with much validity, with as many as 2.4 million medication addicts within the past year.

Still, there’s this belief that pain medication isn’t addictive in cases where you actually are in chronic pain, or that you  – with absolutely no prior history of drug abuse, and a dislike for drinking – could never possibly develop an addiction from prescription medication.

The truth is that physically dependent addicts won’t know how a drug or medication affects them mentally until they try it – and yes, pain medication is still addictive even when you are struggling with real pain. Remember that popular medical TV series, “House, M.D.”?

Myth 4: You can just push through it

In relation to the second myth in this article: no, this pain isn’t a minor pain you should ignore, or just “walk off”.

Typically there is a physical underlying cause for this pain – but there are times when that isn’t the case, as with psychosomatic pain. In these cases, the pain may eventually just go away.

That doesn’t mean you have to put yourself under the torturous stress of chronic pain when a simple treatment plan or a medication may help out. Pain management exists in its many forms for the simple reason that every person is different – and some treatment options work better for certain individuals than they do for others.

Myth 5: It’s all Part of getting Old  

It’s easy to look at most aging individuals and assume that the aches and pains of aging are synonymous to this pain – but that’s a massive folly.

Yes, an aging body is more prone to injury, and depending on your genetics, age, environment and lifestyle, you’re likely to develop age-related conditions like arthritis and dementia not as a result of your age, but in correlation to it (that means aging doesn’t cause pain, but often the two go hand-in-hand).

This doesn’t mean that everyone ages into a senior life marked by pain – especially the chronic kind, which is by no means normal. The cause of your pain doesn’t relate directly to your age – and being a senior citizen doesn’t automatically mean you have to settle for a pain-riddled life because that’s the assumption you’ve held for decades.

Chronic Pain Management | Comprehensive Pain Management CenterWhat is Pain?

Pain is a part of life. It’s important for the body to be able to experience pain and use it to guide you through a safe, healthy path in life. However, chronic pain is fundamentally different from acute pain. In some cases, it can be seen as useless pain. There are times when this pain occurs because of an underlying disease – but far too often, it’s the result of nerve damage or some other cause that is unrelated to any actual illness of physical problem.

Defining pain itself is tricky – what qualifies as pain is different from person to person. Some experience their pain as a reoccurring, sharp sensation. In other cases, it remains steadily as a dull pain, accentuated by rarer surges of intensity. In some cases, it’s akin to a burning sensation, or perhaps something like a nerve pinch.

Chronic Pain Management

Because the underlying reason can come from a relatively lengthy list of options, the pain itself is experienced uniquely from person to person. It’s easy to see why pain confuses many in its vagueness and relative flexibility as a medical condition, especially in a field where technical precision is expected.

There is no magic pill, no 100% surefire answer, and no ideal treatment for any single case of chronic pain. But there are guidelines, tips, pain management techniques and treatment options to suit the needs of every single pain sufferer out there.

 

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