10 Common Chronic Pain Myths
Despite the fact that chronic pain affects near 100 million American adults, it is still very misunderstood by society at large and sometimes even by the patients themselves. The following are 10 of the most common myths regarding chronic pain.
Many people have reported success in reducing the suffering they experience due to their pain using mindfulness meditation techniques. However, the best methods of dealing with chronic pain usually involve both mind AND matter (i.e., mental and physical techniques).
While I have known two or three people that I suspect exaggerated their pain to elicit sympathy from others, most chronic pain patients I know tend to minimize their pain to try to seem as “normal” as possible. We don't want to be perceived as complainers so we keep much of our pain experience to ourselves.
For people without chronic pain, it can be hard to understand people with chronic pain can't work or participate in activities. They don't realize that pain levels can fluctuate, and we can have both good and bad days. Nor do they realize just how incapacitating chronic pain can be.
While opioids are the best known medications for pain, they are not always the most effective medication depending upon the individual patient and the type of pain they are experiencing. Other classes of medication frequently used to treat various kinds of chronic pain include antidepressants and anti-convulsants.
Anyone who takes opioids on a regular basis will become dependent upon them, meaning they will have to taper off gradually to avoid withdrawal symptoms. But very few chronic pain patients exhibit the compulsive drug-seeking behaviors of someone who is addicted. For more information, read Opioids: Addiction vs. Dependence.
Pushing ourselves to do too much despite the pain will not result in gain but may cause additional injury. However, sometimes we do need to push ourselves to get up and move around to avoid becoming stiff and actually increasing our pain. If you have any doubts about what activities you should and shouldn't do, talk to your doctor.
According to a survey conducted by the American Pain Society, 61 percent of people with chronic pain experience frequent flares of pain as opposed to constant pain. For most of us, the pain and its severity will vary from day to day. Try to pace yourself so you'll have more good days ahead.
While certain painful conditions like arthritis and bursitis are more common as you age, they should not be considered “normal” and ignored. Any pain that becomes chronic and/or interferes with your life needs to be addressed with your doctor.