Chronic Pain Myths

By Rebecca Rengo - 2007-10-20

Through my own journey with chronic pain, I have been subjected to a lot of misinformation about pain and how to relieve and manage it.

I have found the following Myths, and their factual responses, to cover many of the issues that pain sufferers have to deal with. I hope you will find them enlightening and consoling in helping you to manage and relieve your chronic pain.

1. Doctors are the experts on assessing pain and pain management.

Fact: Pain is what the patient says it is. Most doctors do not receive training in pain management.

2. Suffering from pain makes you a stronger person.

Fact: Constant pain can cause health problems, such as sleep disturbance, weakened immune system and depression.

3. People with chronic pain can never enjoy life.

Fact: Functional status is related to quality of life. People with chronic pain can have a good quality of life.

4. Your condition is worsening if you are experiencing more pain.

Fact: Pain can come and go for many reasons, and more pain is not a clear indicator that the condition has worsened; however, you should still seek medical attention.

5. Your pain is not serious if you can relieve it by over-the-counter medication.

Fact: Over-the-counter pain medications can lead to ignoring a serious medical condition. Repeated high doses of acetaminophen can lead to liver or kidney damage.

6. Pain means that a particular part of your body is physically damaged.

Fact: With chronic pain, no evidence of disease or damage to body tissues linked to the pain may be seen.

7. Morphine is prescribed when death is near.

Fact: Morphine is used to relief severe pain and helps the patient relax. It can be prescribed in painful conditions that are not life threatening.

8. Heavy sedation results from pain medications.

Fact: Pain medication can cause initial sedation; however, with continuing doses of medication, normal activities will return.

9. A tolerance to pain medications is always developed.

Fact: Pain medications, including opioids, do not always lead to a developed tolerance. If an increase in dosage is prescribed, it may be due to the need to continuously control the pain.

10. Pain management can only be given in a hospital.

Fact: Pain management is actually safer and more effective if given in the home.

11. The pain is "in your head."

Fact: Pain is in the mind and body. Even if the source of pain is difficult to find, it does not mean it is not there.

12. Pain medicine should be saved for when it's really needed.

Fact: Untreated pain is at risk for becoming chronic.

13. A strong pain medication should take away all of your pain.

Fact: Pain medications may not relieve all of your pain and an increase in dosage or different medication could be suggested.

14. Pain medications are the only way to treat pain.

Fact: Alternative techniques such as: relaxation techniques, massage therapy, yoga, and acupuncture can be used.

15. Disease control and pain management cannot be given simultaneously.

Fact: Doctors can treat disease and control pain at the same time. In some cases, treating pain leads to a faster healing time.

16. The ability to sense pain as you age decreases.

Fact: Older adults are less likely to report pain, however the ability to sense pain is the same. Even patients with dementia feel pain. 17. Someone who does not report pain must not have any pain. Fact: Everyone expresses pain differently based on his or her history and behaviors.

18. Depression is inevitable with chronic pain.

Fact: Depression is treatable. The combination of anti-depressants and counseling is the most effective.

Rebecca Rengo is author of Beyond Chronic Pain: A get-well guidebook to soothe the body, mind & spirit. A Pain Relief Coach, Author, Speaker, Therapist & Educator for over 25 yrs.,she has been featured on television radio in publications.Rebecca is current president of the Missouri Pain Initiative & on adjunct faculty at Washington University.

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