Debunking Common Chronic Pain Myths
Have you ever tried to describe to someone exactly what it feels like to break a bone or experience a migraine? Pain is a subjective topic and can be difficult to articulate for those experiencing it. The pain of a dislocation, sprain or earache isn’t fun, but it’s usually easy to identify and resolve. For many people though, their pain won’t simply ‘go away’ with a treatment course, healing time, or a really good therapy session. Pain that lasts longer than 3 months (or ongoing) is considered ‘chronic’. Chronic pain is reported as Australia’s third most expensive health problem1, with figures estimating 1 in 5 Australians will experience chronic pain during their lives1. It may present as headaches, arthritis, nerve pain, or pain in a certain part of the body (such as back, legs, shoulder or neck). There are many myths and misconceptions about chronic pain doing the rounds, which may be making it even more contentious and difficult to understand. So, we’ve asked some of our pharmacists to shed some more light on this topic.
Myth 1: Medications are the only treatment that will help
This is not ideal for the majority of people. A doctor or pharmacist will usually recommend the most effective management of chronic pain through holistic or multidisciplinary treatment options – or in other words a medicated and non-medicated approach. This approach may combine certain pain relief medications with additional non-medicinal measures such as acupuncture, weight loss, massage and physiotherapy. It may also be beneficial to consider mind-based exercises such as cognitive behavioural therapy or mind-body approaches such as meditation, laughter, yoga and pilates. When combined with medication, a pain management plan, and a team of health professionals (ie. GP, pharmacist, dietician, physiotherapist), these can all play a role in enhancing the management of pain. Consider mind, body and soul when exploring how to treat chronic pain.
Myth 2: Pain is all in your head
Pain is a real experience that is produced when the brain senses a threat to the body2. If there are sufficient signals of danger present, the output of pain is produced2. Due to the relentless and ongoing nature of chronic pain, feelings such as anxiety, fear and depression can also develop, which may increase the pain levels for those experiencing it2. Pain is subjective – we can’t experience each other’s pain, but we can talk about it and help others understand how it feels.
Myth 3: Pain is a natural side effect of aging
There’s a reason the wicked witch in Snow White wanted to avoid aging and remain the ‘fairest in the land’ … but it wasn’t because of pain. As we age, some people do experience aches and pains from natural wear and tear on the body. This is different to chronic pain, which can affect any person at any age. In contrast, some people are fortunate to not experience any pain as a result of the natural aging process. If you are experiencing pain that seems to get worse with each passing year, you shouldn’t have to just suffer through it. It is recommended you speak with your pharmacist or GP to find what pain relief options may be right for you.
Myth 4: It’s better to tough it out and just live with pain
“Toughing it out” won’t make life easier or pain more tolerable– quite the contrary. Ignoring pain can have serious consequences, particularly if you choose to self-medicate or forego treatment options completely. Speaking to your GP or your local TerryWhite Chemmart pharmacist about your pain and what treatment options may be right for you could empower you to live a fuller life. The other approach to ‘toughing it out’ and not talking about your pain could be equally harmful. By bottling up your feelings about your experience with pain, your loved ones may find it hard to understand and empathise with you. Communicating and staying close with loved ones may empower you to cope better with daily living. Click here for tips to support better communication with your loved ones.
Chronic pain should not be suffered alone. At TerryWhite Chemmart, we are your partners in pain relief and are here to help. Speak to one of our friendly pharmacists today about booking a Pain Medication Review, and what you can do to better manage any chronic pain you are experiencing. Pain Medication Reviews can be completed in person, over the phone, or via Telehealth (video). Book today by calling your local TerryWhite Chemmart or online by clicking here.
General advice only – this information should not replace the information provided to you by your health care professional. If symptoms are severe or persist, please speak to your health care professional. Information current as of date of publishing.
Always check with your pharmacist or medical professional before starting any new medications or supplements, particularly if you have any pre-existing medical conditions, are taking any medications currently, are pregnant or breastfeeding, or researching therapies suitable for infants or children.
- Pain Australia for chronic pain – https://www.painaustralia.org.au/getting-help/right-care/self-managing-chronic-pain
- Chronic Pain Australia – http://chronicpainaustralia.org.au/