When you suffer from chronic pain, it’s easy to get confused as different friends try to offer you different advice. Some may say exercise is the answer, other will advise rest! Some may want to tell you that the pain is all in your head, or that a course of medication will alleviate your symptoms for good, but is this true?
To help sort through some of the confusion, this blog will look at some of the most common facts and myths surrounding chronic pain.
Myth #1 You can cure chronic pain by treating the underlying cause
Although this can sometimes be true, chronic pain is often much more complex than that!
Anyone suffering from chronic pain must consult their doctor to see if an underlying cause for the pain can be found. However, if the cause of the pain can be determined, treatment of the underlying problem does not always mean an end to the associated pain. Sometimes that pain can linger. In other cases a doctor may not be able to reach a diagnosis, and the source of the chronic pain can remain a mystery.
Often those suffering with chronic pain will benefit most from a two-pronged approach; treating both the underlying problem and separately treating the pain as well.
Myth #2 Bed rest is the best way to treat chronic pain
Outdated medical advice for people with various types of chronic pain, was bed rest.
In some cases this may still be the best advice, for instance in the first couple of days after an injury. However, where chronic pain is concerned, often carrying on with your normal day to day tasks can be the most beneficial course of action. Bed rest in some cases can actually make things worse.
Of course, all cases are individual, and it is very important to get advice from your doctor.
Myth #3 Chronic or increased pain is part of the ageing process
This is particularly damaging myth! No matter what your age you should always go to see your doctor if you are suffering from chronic pain.
It is true that as you age your likelihood of developing painful conditions, such as arthritis, increases. But with the right diagnosis, most chronic pain conditions can be treated, with patients seeing a significant improvement.
Fact #1 You should see your doctor even if you only have mild chronic pain
No matter how mild your chronic pain, you should consult your doctor. The pain may signal an underlying problem, and often early treatment can prevent the pain from worsening and becoming difficult to treat.
Additionally, if patients put off seeing a doctor, it can lead to unhealthy ways of dealing with pain such as overuse of over-the-counter painkillers. In some cases it can even cause depression, sleep deprivation, isolation and problems at work or in the home.
Fact #2 Chronic pain might not go away completely, even with good treatment
Unfortunately, with chronic pain, there is often no instant cure! Complex pain conditions can take time to treat, with a combination of traditional and alternative therapies.
With each case being unique, different solutions will work for different people. Although there is no guarantee that chronic pain can be completely cured, in most cases patients can expect to see an improvement in their quality of life with treatment.
Fact #3 Chronic pain and depression are connected
Studies have shown that chronic pain and depression do seem to be connected. With people who suffer from chronic pain, often suffering with depression, and vice versa.
This is a very complex issue. It is true people with depression can be more sensitised to pain, but this does not mean that the pain is ‘in their heads’, their pain is very real. In fact studies on the brain have shown that emotional pain and physical pain activate some of the same areas of the brain. Furthermore, some anti-depressant medications are successful at treating chronic pain conditions, even in those patients who are not suffering from depression.
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