Have you ever hear people say things like "Bed rest is the best thing for chronic pain" or "Don't take a pain prescription, you'll become addicted"?
Pain and pain management are extremely hot topics right now as the national opioid crisis continues to rage on.
With so much information out there and the constantly changing landscape about the best ways to assess and treat pain, there are bound to be a lot of misconceptions and myths.
This goes for doctors as well as patients.
Here are a few of the biggest misconceptions about pain and the actual truth behind them.
1. Pain is a normal part of getting older and I should just deal with it
No matter who you are or how old you are, pain is your body's way of telling you that something is wrong. There might be a problem lurking beneath the surface.
It is true that as you get older, you're more likely to experience some aches and pains here and there (arthritis, anyone?). But, chronic pain is not a normal part of life in the golden years.
If you're experiencing chronic pain, be sure to speak with your doctor about it so you can get treated.
2. If I tell my doctor about my pain, I will be labeled as a complainer or a drug-seeker
Nobody wants to be known as the whiner or complainer at their doctor's office.
I find this to be especially true of men who want to be seen as strong and stoic.
Even worse, some people are actually afraid to go to the hospital or to their doctor because they are treated as though they are only looking for drugs. That's a problem.
Suffering in silence from your pain is not building character or earning yourself a higher position in the afterlife. So, don't do it.
The truth is, you shouldn't be afraid to speak up about your pain.
It is your doctor's responsibility to help treat your pain. They can't do their job unless you do yours.
Untreated pain can take a serious toll on your quality of life leading to daily activity impairment and decreased productivity at work.
It can also lead to depression, anxiety, and lack of energy.
3. Pain medication will fix the problem
Most of the time, there is no magical cure when it comes to relieving pain. Not to mention, pain pills don't actually cure pain, they're just a temporary fix.
You should absolutely follow your doctor's treatment plan when it comes to managing your pain.
But also don't be afraid to do your own research about alternative ways to treat your pain. If nothing else, you will gain a better understanding of your condition and what to expect.
Chronic pain, like any other chronic condition, can be long-term and require lifelong lifestyle changes.
4. Pain medication always leads to addiction
This is not necessarily true as there are many factors to consider.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse estimates that between 8 and 12 percent of people who use opioids will develop an opioid use disorder.
Personal history and the length of time you use opioids have an impact on your chances of misusing them.
Don't confuse addiction and dependence. Physical dependence is needing a higher dose of the drug as time goes on as the pain gets worse.
Addiction or misuse is defined as continued drug use despite negative consequences like losing your job or family problems.
Some known characteristics associated with the risk of opioid misuse and addiction:
- family or personal history of substance use disorder
- history of legal troubles or criminal activity
- history of mental illness or personality disorders
- heavy tobacco use
- involvement with high-risk people or environments
- stressful life circumstances
- risk-taking behaviors
Of course, everyone is different. It's impossible to predict who will become addicted to painkillers.
When used appropriately and for short periods of time, opioids can provide relief for severe, acute pain.
If you are being prescribed painkillers, don't take the decision lightly and be sure to consider all of your options. Talk to your doctor about your risk factors.
5. People with chronic pain should not exercise
This is simply untrue. In fact, not moving will make chronic pain worse.
It's really important to stay active and keep an exercise regimen that incorporates strength, flexibility, and aerobics. This will keep your joints lubricated, muscles strong, and heart healthy.
Exercise has many other benefits like releasing feel-good hormones, improving mood, and better sleep.
What are you waiting for? Get moving now.
6. No pain, no gain
This myth as well as "working through the pain" still runs rampant among bodybuilders and weekend athletes.
Rest and recovery is a really important step in your exercise regimen, it's arguably as important as the exercise itself. Your muscles need recovery after a tough workout in order to gain all of the benefits from your workout.
Yeah, not pushing through the pain and resting doesn't seem very macho but it is the way to go. Trust us.
If you seem like you're having a lot of muscle pain after exercise, you might want to try some lighter workouts or workout more frequently.
7. "Alternative" treatments don't work
We have told you time and time again about alternative and natural treatments for pain. Why? Because they actually do work and scientific research supports this.
Take a look back at some topics we have covered in the past about natural treatments:
- The Connection Between Mindfulness and Chronic Pain Relief
- Your Guide to Dieting for Better Health and Pain Relief
- Why You Should be Using Glucosamine and Chondroitin for Arthritic Pain
- 8 Yoga Poses to Help Ease Chronic Pain
- How to Grow a Pain Healing Garden for Small Spaces
- 3 Breathing Techniques to Relieve Chronic Pain
- 7 Uncommon Ways to Meditate for People Who Hate Meditating
- A Beginner's Guide to Essential Oils to Relieve Pain
Other great natural treatments include massage and acupuncture.
There are these and plenty more misconceptions about pain and pain relief out there.
Take everything you hear with a grain of salt and do your research. Be informed and don't fall victim to all the chatter out there.
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