There is a lot of pain myths out there. From whether it exists, to the mechanisms involved, to the management and care, they all stem from lack of awareness. So I thought I would set a few of the most basic mistakes straight. Let’s bust some pain myths!Myth: Pain is the same for everyone.
Fact: Research has shown time and time again that everyone reacts to pain differently. Many factors can affect your experience of pain. From lifestyle choices such as smoking and exercise, to genetics and mental wellbeing, it adds up.
Did you know that redheads are more sensitive to pain? Or that women are more sensitive to pain, but still have equal pain tolerance to men? In fact, your dominant hand can also sense pain more accurately, but can withstand pain for longer.
So stop before you judge someone in pain, or berate yourself for your own pain. Remember that your perception is unique.
Myth: Chronic pain is just people being lazy or sooky.
Fact: Chronic pain is no joke.
Let’s look at what the experts have to say about it:
“Chronic pain has a distinct pathology, causing changes throughout the nervous system that often worsen over time. It has significant psychological and cognitive correlates and can constitute a serious, separate disease entity.”
– Relieving Pain in America, Report by US Institute of Medicine, 2011
That’s right – chronic pain is not all in someone’s head. It may start off with a normal injury, like a broken bone or strained muscle. But then chronic pain can develop into its own condition. That’s because the nervous system goes into a state of constant alert, setting off signals at every perceived threat.
So don’t go blaming their mental state. In fact, it’s actually their nerves that are being sooks, not them!
Myth: Pain is only ever short-lived.
Pain can last anywhere from a split second to a lifetime. It all depends on what is causing the pain, and how the body’s systems respond to that pain.
Hopefully, your body will understand that the pain was temporary, and will go back to acting normally. But if not, that doesn’t mean that you have to give up hope.
Myth: Chronic pain means that you have to stop living your normal life.
Fact: Chronic pain can be managed, and in some cases even resolved. However, there is no one set care plan for chronic pain that has guaranteed results. Every case is different. But people with chronic pain do have support systems and health practitioners willing to help.
The best way to manage pain is to have a team of practitioners with knowledge about pain. This might include:
- Medical specialists
- Massage therapists
- Occupational therapists
- Social workers
The list goes on. But the important thing is to find people who will treat you as a person, not as a condition.
Myth: Diet and lifestyle have no effect on chronic pain.
Fact: More and more pain research is emerging every day. Much of it supports the difference that diet, lifestyle, and supplements can have on chronic pain.
Some commonly researched supplements for pain conditions include omega-3s, S-adenosylmethionine, magnesium and glucosamine.
Some diet changes have also been shown to improve symptoms in pain conditions. This may include removal of intolerances or allergies, or adding therapeutic foods.
Finally, lifestyle changes have been found to be effective in managing chronic pain. These can include counselling, exercise, deep breathing, mindfulness, and meditation.