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Understanding Pain and Chronic Pain Conditions

Updated on November 10, 2015

Understanding Pain and Chronic Pain Conditions

By Jennifer Goldston

According to the most recent poll, 1 in 4 adults from around the world, suffers from pain; 34% of those are unable to live normal lives because of the severity of their pain. The numbers are staggering and the relief is few; here’s what you should understand about chronic pain.

The Struggles They Face

People who suffer from chronic pain, know how debilitating it can be. The most common complaint amongst people suffering from pain is a lack of sleep, disruptions in their day to day activities, missed workdays’, an inability to maintain an exercise routine, and a lack of sexual desire, because the pain is so bad. “Some days I could barely get out of bed, the pain was so bad,” said fibromyalgia patient Valerie Mathews. Other days, Valerie’s pain lessened, and she was almost fully functioning. This led some doctors to think she was drug-seeking. “Yes, it hurt, what people thought of me. But the pain hurt worse. I felt totally and completely alone, I thought the pain was going to kill me.” Sadly, Valerie’s case isn’t uncommon.

Stigma Associated With Pain

There is a great stigma associated with pain sufferers. Many people mistakenly believe that chronic pain sufferers are opioid dependent drug seekers, others believe they’re just lazy, complainers. Even medical doctors used to believe that certain diseases were ‘all in the mind’ of the patient, even though they’re now widely accepted as a viable disease. Medical doctors’ were completely unable to comprehend that pain could exist outside the spectrum of illness and disease as an entity all its own.

Some still aren’t able to accept this new piece of knowledge as fact, and wrongly tell patients to seek psychological help, because it’s all in their head. This type of thinking leads to pain shaming the patient, by their friends, family, and communities, which can create isolation and loneliness in the person experiencing the pain. Oftentimes the patient feels a need to ‘prove’ their pain is real, to the people around them. “I always felt like I needed to prove myself, show them my pain was real, that what I was experiencing was real,” said Valerie Mathews. This led to stress and anxiety, which caused an even greater fibromyalgia flare-up, which created even more physical pain; a vicious cycle, to be sure.

What Is Pain?

Now that we know that pain can exist as its own being; apart from illness and disease, you need to know what pain is. There are several types of pain; Acute and Chronic.

Acute Pain

Acute pain can be the effect of an illness or injury, that has a sudden onset, and only lasts for a short period of time. Acute pain can have a variety of causes, such as: post-surgical pain, injury to the epidermis caused by a cut, menstrual cramps, stubbed toe, or an ankle sprain.

Chronic Pain

Pain is considered chronic when it’s consistent and lasts longer than three months. Chronic pain can be the result of illness, injury, or exist as its own entity; this type of pain can be debilitating and difficult to treat.

If you’re suffering from pain and feel your medical practitioner isn’t taking your condition seriously, consider seeking the treatment of a pain management specialist, they may be able to help.

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