10 Myths About Chronic Pain (Hint: It's Not All in Your Head!)
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What are the most common myths about chronic pain?
Chronic pain is a very misunderstood phenomenon. Most people tend to think pain sufferers should simply toughen up and deal with it. But if it were that easy, it wouldn't be such a widespread problem. Here are ten myths regarding chronic pain according to Phillip J. Wagner, MD, from the Hospital for Special Surgery:
- "If the doctor can't find the cause of the pain, then it must be in your head." Chronic pain is a legitimate complaint, the causes of which can be difficult to determine.
- "Seeking help for your pain makes you weak." There is no need to suffer and feel trapped. Help is available; you just need to find it.
- "Taking narcotic pain medications will lead to becoming an addict." Most people don't become addicted to narcotic pain medications. Addicts crave their drug. Dependence, however, can occur when the body becomes accustomed to the presence of the medication.
- "Side effects of opiod drugs turns you into a zombie." Most side effects can be controlled by making dosage adjustments.
- "People taking pain meds for a long time will build a tolerance and require higher doses." Increased dosages are used to manage worsening physical or psychological symptoms.
- "Some people just don't want to get better." Come on ... who wants to be in pain?
- "If you just ignore the pain it will go away." Ignoring chronic pain may actually make it worse. Understanding chronic pain and getting the right kind of help is the key to treating the problem.
- "People should overcome pain by pushing through it." You must know your limits and respect the messages your body is sending in order to avoid worsening your pain.
- "If you look good, you can't be in pain." People are resilient and many continue functioning despite their pain. This misconception can cause a lot of emotional distress for pain sufferers.
- "Just live with it because you've been to so many doctors and no one has helped." There are many different treatments available. It's just a matter of finding the right one to help you.
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