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When you live with a disability or chronic pain there will always be myths that people go around saying that they believe is true but is totally false. Chronic pain has myths like any disability but I think it can have even more stigma than visible disabilities because unlike visible disabilities where it’s easy to see someone’s struggles with invisible ones you cannot see it. People with invisible disabilities can struggle just as much as those with invisible ones but because people need to physically see something to believe it’s real it can be harder to convince people that you are affected just as much. When you spread myths about any disability or chronic pain it hurts people who live with it because it makes you feel more isolated and like no one gets it or cares. Chronic pain is a serious medical issue that affects your whole body and has a major impact on your quality of life but unfortunately, some people don’t see it that way and think you are faking it to get attention. In this post, I am going to talk about some common chronic pain that you probably have heard before and may even have believed at some point but there is no truth to them at all.
We are drug seekers- When you have chronic pain you will do whatever it takes to get relief but unfortunately, not everyone sees the good in our medication because all they see is us popping pills. Chronic pain sufferers want to be able to have life and sometimes medication makes it so we can but we don’t seek these drugs out as our first choice. Some people do really well with natural remedies and don’t need any medication but that is not a solution for everyone and some people find zero relief with essential oils. Medication often is our last resort because the side effects can be the worst part of taking meds and if Excedrin worked for all types of migraine pain everyone would do it. People in pain are relief seeking not medication seeking and there is a big difference between the two because most patients would get off their meds in a heartbeat if they could!
Everyone gets addicted to their meds- It is so sad that because of the opioid crisis that everyone who asks for medication other than Tylenol is treated like they are some kind of addict because some people need these types of meds to function but it is so hard to get them. Whenever I have surgery medical professionals try to trick me into thinking that Tylenol is better than some of the stronger pain meds because it’s less addictive. Tylenol is less addictive than a narcotic and I will take it for less severe surgery pain but when it’s unbearable, it’s not better because often it makes zero difference in your pain levels. There are some people that will get addicted to their medication and I am sad for those people but not everyone who needs medication will be irresponsible about it and some people take it as prescribed. I know you can’t assume that everyone is going to be okay but there has to be a better way that doesn’t punish people in pain and make them fearful of having surgery. People in pain should not be forced to suffer because doctors’ hands are tied and aren’t allowed to prescribe more meds that would give their patients relief. It is important to talk about the dangers of misusing medication but there has to be another way that doesn’t shame everyone who is struggling with their health.
Your attitude can affect your pain- Some chronic pain sufferers swear by yoga or meditation because it helps with their anxiety and stress levels but I don’t know anyone who has said that yoga session cured my chronic pain and made it better. Your mindset can help you cope with the pain but being positive is not going to have a huge impact on your pain levels and it only may make you less depressed. Disabled and chronically ill people are always told that our disabilities are in our minds but often it doesn’t even affect our minds and is a whole-body experience. A positive mindset can improve your mood so you have a better attitude about your struggles but if being too negative was the result of disability there would be far more disabled people and the people who are already living with challenges would cure themselves because in my experience the most positive people I know are those who live with challenges and some of the most negative people are those who don’t.
Losing weight can get rid of the pain- The biggest problem I see in the chronic pain community is when pain patients are struggling and go to their doctor to get answers but they are completely shut down because all their doctor has to say is to lose weight. If you all of a sudden are struggling to move or have high blood pressure it may be a contributing factor to your pain but for some people that is not the case because they are at a healthy weight and going on a diet will not change your pain levels at all. I can’t stress enough how damaging it is when doctors are too quick to blame someone’s medical problems on their weight because although there may be instances when that may be true sometimes there is a bigger issue that needs further investigation. I feel for people that have doctors who don’t take them seriously because of their weight but never give up until you find someone who listens to your concerns!
Exercise will make it all better- People who say that if you exercise more you will cure yourself irritate me and shows how uneducated you are about chronic pain because no one with knowledge would give that kind of advice. Exercise can help some people have less pain but for others, it makes it worse and is not helpful when you tell chronic pain sufferers that their activity level is the problem and to go to the gym more. Light exercises has helped me have less pain but I wouldn’t recommend that to everyone because for some people my methods may not be helpful at all. When you move it can make chronic pain better because you aren’t allowing yourself to get stiff and weak which can worsen pain but for some disabilities, it’s not smart to exercise and will do more harm than good. Always listen to your body because you are not helping yourself if you push through a workout when your body told you to rest. Chronic pain is not like pushing through a tough workout and will not be made better if you exercise more but be worse if you don’t listen to you body!
All chronic pain is the result of aging- As you get older you may experience more aches and pains because of the wear and tear we put on our bodies throughout life but not all chronic pain is the result of aging. When you experience pain in your sixties or seventies it may be because you are getting older but I don’t think all chronic pain is because your muscles are started to become frail. Some people start to experience pain in their twenties or thirties and are very young so how can you blame that on aging? We don’t always know what causes chronic pain but I do know for a fact that not all chronic pain is because you are old and some disabilities are just more likely to develop chronic pain than others.
You exaggerate your pain- Some people will say that people with chronic pain exaggerate how much pain they experiencing because there is no way anyone could have that much pain and not be crying about it. Some people have higher pain tolerances and will not complain every time they are hurting but we are doing everything except exaggerating for attention. If anything chronic pain sufferers down play their pain to spare the feelings of their families because even people you are close to don’t get it. When you live with chronic pain you get used to living in pain and find ways to adapt but even though we aren’t saying anything that doesn’t mean it’s a good day because the longer you live with pain the better you get at hiding it.
There is a lot of myths with any disability but when you live with chronic pain there is even more misconceptions because people have a hard time understanding things they cannot see and will create their own ideas of what they think living with pain is like but often it’s totally wrong. Chronic pain is often overlooked because you get so good at hiding pain that people don’t believe you could be in as much pain as you say you are without crying about it. I guess it’s a good thing that you can present yourself well and not show pain but the downside is you build such a high pain tolerance that people don’t believe it’s real. You don’t have to understand someone’s struggles but you shouldn’t judge pain you have never experienced and even though someone is smiling that doesn’t mean it’s a good day because you can have a bad pain day and trick everyone around you into thinking you are fine. People in pain often feel isolated and although you may not always say what you are thinking your reaction to them is everything but invisible. What chronic pain myths have you heard that you believed but later found out is not true at all?
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I’ve heard them all not only by regular people but also by doctors and that’s worse. This crack down on pain meds is horrible, they look at everyone as an addict and all we want is to get rid of the pain.
My Rockin Disabled Life
Yeah it’s definitely worse when you hear these things spoken by healthcare workers. I agree that the pain med crisis is horrible and sad because the people who are most affected are those who truly need them.
Thanks for this. I’ve have chronic pain since I was 17, it’s not an “old person’s problem”. I’m not addicted to my meds but I’m not rushing to get off them either. They’re something I’ll probably need for the rest of my life and there’s no shame in that.
My Rockin Disabled Life
I have had chronic pain since my my mid twenties and I am lucky that I don’t need any super strong pain killers but I do rely on them to function and do not plan on coming off of them any time soon because without my medication I would have not life!
So true! I developed endometriosis and irritable bowel syndrome in my early 20’s and learned I had TMJD and fibromyalgia in my 30’s, so you’re right, age has nothing to do with it. I refuse to take narcotic pain meds, except for short periods after recovering from surgery, because of the stigma involved with them, plus I don’t want to get “hooked.” Most people would never know I go about my day with a pain level of 5 on the 10 pt scale (after meds), except my husband who can see it in my eyes. We do what we have to do, I say.
My Rockin Disabled Life
I started experiencing chronic migraine and pain in my mid to late twenties and I also have learned it has nothing to do with age because it can happen to anyone. I am lucky that the only time I may need narcotics is after surgery because I don’t know how I would feel about using them regularly.