7 Myths of Chronic Pain

myths-debunked

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.

agepainMyth 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.

I think I see the problem.

I think I see the problem.

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.

Walk it off, they say.

Walk it off, they say.

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.

Side_Effects1Myth 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.

I can stop anytime I want...it's just now is not the time.

I can stop anytime I want…it’s just now is not the time.

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.

Im fine

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.

Friday nights out have been canceled...indefinitely.

Friday nights out have been canceled…indefinitely.

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About leitis23

I'm an adventure, living life to the fullest, and doing stupid things enthusiast, whose life took a serious left turn into chronic invisible illness. My saga of adventures in the world and in medicine never fail to keep life interesting.
This entry was posted in Chronic Illness, Chronic Pain, Doctors, health, humor, Medicine, pain management and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

36 Responses to 7 Myths of Chronic Pain

  1. Ruth Braham says:

    Chronic pain can be constant. I’ve been in pain for 10 years. I don’t even get a break when I’m asleep, I feel pain in my nightmares. I believe I’ve had a couple of hours of while under general anaesthetic, but other than that. It’s true that it may not be constant, but for a lot of us, it is

    • me too, since Dec 2005. The intensity does vary (that part is correct for me), But there are a lot of us where the only relief from our pain, is actually just a decrease in the level (say going from a 10 to a 7 or 8). I’m grateful even for just the lowering of the intensity. But I have not had a day without pain since my car accident 😦

    • Kathryn says:

      I also incorporate pain into my dreams. I’ve always thought that’s kind of wierd, and unfair that I don’t even get a break while sleeping, but I’ve decided it’s got to be a survival mechanism. Even if you are in constant pain, the body needs to sleep, so it finds a way to do it in spite of the pain. Just like we need to physically and psychologically process the pain awake, so we also need to do during sleep. Interestingly enough, my dreams in which pain appears are not always nightmares. They are often dreams about everyday things where I also happen to be experiencing pain, just as in real life. I have tried hypnosis, and it does help me get some restful sleep. My favorite is actually free in the Google Play Store. It is called Fix Pain Now. It’s an app. I highly recommend it!

  2. Debbie Kiser says:

    If only we could get support from our families instead of put downs. I get really depressed with the way my family treats me like I’m just faking.

  3. Squaddie Lass says:

    Thanks for the article, it’s great. I would take a small issue with one point, though.

    ‘Myth 3’ – Just push through the pain, is not necessarily as bad a piece of advice for everyone as you might think. True, there are many conditions where that is awful advice, but equally many where it actually can be a better option.

    I have lived with chronic pain for around 12 years now, caused by nerve damage after an accident which damaged my spine and pelvis. The damage itself is mostly healed, albeit with a great deal of internal scar tissue, but the pain is caused by the nerve damage when broken bits of stuff ripped through them. The pain is not informing me that anything is wrong beyond the damage in the nerves and, the more sedentary I am, the more the muscles related to the injury atrophy and the less I can do overall. Long term, it will make the pain worse. I’ve pushed myself in the last 2 years to do more, and now I have much better mobility and I’m more resilient to the pain. I also have more ‘good days’ becuase my muscles are in better shape to cope. I’ve also lost weight, and carrying extra weight is a big problem for a lot of us – many medication options are notorious for the weight gain effects (Pregablin is the worst I experienced for sudden weight gain, but I’m sure there are many more), we are naturally less able to exercise, and so gaining weight is a concern. This is a particular issue with muscular/skeletal disorders where the extra weight makes mobility harder.

    What I would say is to talk to your consultant, and your physio/chiro/Oc Health professional/whoever you see, and have a frank discussion about the consenquences of activity over inactivity. Find a level that’s right for you personally. Learn to love your body for all the amazing and cool stuff it CAN do, rather than hate it for the things it can’t, and listen to it – you know better than anyone else when the time is to push through it and when the time is to wrap up against the world and let it all go.

    I’m not trying to beat anyone up or make anyone feel bad, but this is as good as it gets for me, and pushing through it is how I keep it this good for longer. I have friends with MS who feel the same. You are the expert in your body, so do what’s right for you.

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  28. alissa says:

    I’m always in pain.

    I had my hole back fused from to to bottom I can barley stand to get out of bed I don’t even know who I am anymore and sometimes I wish it would be easier if I wasn’t here
    .. my Dr and husband just look at me like I can’t be in that much pain ,but sometimes I fill like I need a wheel chair to function. . I’m so tired i dint know what to do anymore 😦

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  33. JT says:

    The most annoying thing about my chronic pain which is balance issues and I use a cane for, was today when I had a social worker appointment (who works with the pain management department) and I’ve seen for the past 6 months and has seen me use a cane that whole time! She asked if I needed the cane and who had gotten it for me (I paid for it myself yet have a quad cane that Medicare paid for through my primary care physician), making me feel like she doesn’t believe that I do need it because of balance issues. I just understand that she may have patients who do not need a cane or fake it yet I am not in that category! After 6 months, why ask me about it? Is it really her judgement call to decide that?

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