An estimated 116 million people in the United States are known to suffer from chronic pain. No doubt, many of them become very tired of having to explain all the aspects of this issue, no matter the cause.
Webmed.com shared the following facts and myths which should assist the sufferers with those answers and better help those with whom they associate with in understanding their plight.
Fact: Weather Can Affect Pain – It is not your imagination causing your joint pain to become worse when it is cold or raining. Even though studies have shown mixed results, changes in barometric pressure can cause some people – especially those with arthritis – to have increased pain in their joints. Experts believe this is because barometric pressure affects joint pressure.
Fact: Women Handle Pain Better than Men – Women tend to point to childbirth as positive proof of their greater pain capacity, and some science backs this up. Men and women tolerate pain differently. Women use more coping mechanisms, seek treatment more quickly and tend to recover from pain faster than men. Still, experts say pain is such an individual experience that it makes it hard to compare one person to another.
Myth: Rest Is Good for Back Pain – Short rest may be prescribed for back pain, however, it is best to remain active. Experts say complete bed rest is one of the worst things you can do; if you are not active, the body quickly becomes deconditioned, causing even more pain when you finally move. Limit exercise during episodes of acute pain but continue daily activities and exercises as much as you can per doctor’s orders.
Fact: Losing Weight Can Ease Pain – If you are overweight, realize that having less weight on your body means less pressure – and less pain – on your back and joints. Dropping a few extra pounds can really help improve joint pain in the knees and hips, says Patience White, MD, vice-president of public health at the Arthritis Foundation. “Even 10 pounds can make a huge difference.” Losing weight can also help back pain caused by muscle fatigue.
Fact: Exercise Curbs Painful Flares – Even though pain might make exercise harder to do, remaining active is one of the best things you can do to feel better. Exercise can help you lose weight, sleep better and boost your mood – all of which help reduce pain. Start with low-impact exercises such as stretching, swimming and walking.
Myth: If Pain Can’t Be Found, It’s Not Real – Dr. John F. Dombrowski, a Washington, D.C. pain specialist says, “Just because you can’t find the exact source of someone’s pain doesn’t mean they don’t feel it. No test can measure the intensity of pain, no imaging device can show pain and no instrument can locate pain precisely. This doesn’t mean pain can’t be treated. We don’t need to know the exact cause of the pain to try to make it feel better..
Myth: Don’t Worry about Minor Pain – Many people believe pain is just something you must learn to live with, however pain should never be ignored. Even if your pain improves with over-the-counter medications, see your doctor if the pain lasts more than a week or two, becomes worse over time, or if it interferes with your daily activities
Fact: Your Attitude Can Affect Pain – If you dwell on pain, it can become worse. “Those who focus on their pain tend to do poorly compared with those who have a proactive attitude and try to find ways to cope with their pain,” says Roger Chou, MD, associate professor of Oregon Health and Science University. Pain can lead to anxiety and depression, which can cause your pain to become worse. Consider counseling to help cope with pain.
Myth: No Pain, No Gain – While it is okay to push yourself until you feel the burn of exercise, it is essential to know when to stop. Pain is the body’s method of informing you something is wrong. You should never feel pain when exercising. If you do, stop and take a break. Learn what your limits are – and remain with them.
Myth: Pain Is Just Part of Aging – A few aches and pains are part of everyone’s life, like gray hair and wrinkles. Chronic pain, which can increase suffering and decrease quality of life, does not have to be. Most people should be able to lead a life relatively-free of pain as they age. If you are plagued with chronic pain, a pain specialist can help you find relief – no matter how old you are.
Myth: Pain Killers Lead to Addiction – When taken as directed, prescription pain killers rarely cause addiction. Just as with other medications, the body can become dependent upon pain medication. While this doesn’t mean you are addicted, you may have withdrawal symptoms if you stop the drug abruptly. It is a response you can expect to have if you are on a prescription pain killer for more than a few days. Your doctor can help you stop safely.