Myth 1: Pain is a normal part of aging.Yes, as we age our bodies creek and crack more, our joints know the weather better than the meteorologists, and aches and pains become part of every day life. While some conditions that cause pain (such as arthritis, osteoporosis, bursitis) may be more likely to occur as you get older, any pain that interferes with your normal functioning or enjoyment of life should be addressed.
Myth 2: Chronic pain always has an underlying cause. Not true, there are many cases in which a physical injury or condition can not be pin pointed as the cause. There are always possibilities, chronic back pain could be due to your posture, your job, that car accident last year, that one time you went skydiving…or maybe not. Just because there is no clear cause does not mean the pain isn’t real.
Myth 3: Just push through the pain. This is monumentally bad advice for someone experiencing chronic pain. Pain is your body’s way of informing you something is wrong, so it’s always wise to pay attention. Additionally chronic pain is not just some bodily discomfort, the constant pain signals physically alter your brain. The effects of these changes are considered brain damage. Ignoring your pain is a dangerous choice.
Myth 4: Pain patients are mostly just drug seekers. Actually, most pain patients try very hard to find remedies outside of medications. Most pain medications impair memory, concentration, balance, and make you sleepy. It is very hard to maintain a job, a family, a household, even a social life while suffering these side effects.
Myth 5: Pain patients treated with opiates become addicts. While many patients become physically dependent on their medications, this is different from an addiction. Physical dependence is characterized by a person’s tolerance for a drug and the experience of withdrawal symptoms when they suddenly stop the medication. Addiction is the use of a drug despite harmful consequences. It is an inability to stop using a drug; failure to meet work, social, or family obligations; and, sometimes (depending on the drug), tolerance and withdrawal. While physical dependence and addiction can go hand in hand, one does not automatically mean the other.
Myth 6: If you look good, you can’t be in pain. What does a headache look like? Exactly! It’s invisible, but it definitely hurts. With chronic pain there is rarely any physical sign. Just because someone looks good doesn’t mean they feel good. Many chronic pain sufferers work hard to hide or minimize their pain so they won’t be seen as weak or complainers. Don’t let appearances fool you.
Myth 7: People who say they have chronic pain are just lazy. Chronic pain isn’t constant pain. Most pain patients experience good days and bad days. From the outside it might appear they are lazy because they are up and functioning fine one day and in bed the next. This isn’t a personal choice, chronic pain goes up and down and the real challenge is to not overdo it on good days and then pay for it dearly the next.