The Facts (and Fiction) About Chronic Pain

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The word pain can mean different things to different people. For some, a simple hangnail can cause tremendous pain. Others can sprain an ankle and go a day or two before deciding to see a doctor. Chronic pain, however, is a serious and debilitating condition that affects millions of people. When you suffer from chronic pain, separating myths from the truth can be a hard, frustrating process. Should you see your doctor the moment your feel uncomfortable? Should you try the home-remedy your friend swears cured her lower back pain? It’s important to know the facts from fiction, in order to find a treatment that works for you.
Fiction: Bed rest is usually the best cure for pain.
There is no one-size-fits-all cure for chronic pain, but bed-rest is a rare prescription in this day and age. Doctors have found lying in bed all day can actually make your chronic pain worse and usually recommend keeping up with physical activities during treatment. There can be times when rest is suggested, especially after an acute injury, so be sure to check with your doctor.
Fact: Even mild pain should be treated by a doctor.
Just because your pain is bearable, doesn’t mean you should go without treatment. Your chronic pain could be a sign of an underlying disease or a health problem in need of treatment. You could also be dealing with your pain in an unhealthy way. This can include using over-the-counter pain medications or alcohol in excess. Mild pain can become worse over time and lead to sleep deprivation and depression. It’s better to get it checked while you still have the opportunity to treat it.
Fiction: To cure chronic pain, you only have to treat the underlying cause.
This is a common myth about chronic pain: to treat the pain, find its source and cure it! In most cases, it’s more complicated than that. Diseases that cause pain are hard to control. Pain can linger even after you think you’ve found its source. Sometimes, the cause of the pain just isn’t known. A two-step approach to treatment, that focuses on both the underlying cause and the pain itself, has been shown to help patients better deal with their suffering.
Fact: A single treatment rarely cures chronic pain.
There is no miracle drug or treatment that will make the pain go away. Effectively treating chronic pain takes a team of specialists, like the ones at the Washington Center for Pain Management. Using a variety of different approaches, including (but not limited to) physical therapy, psychological counseling and medication management, a comprehensive treatment plan can help patients get their pain under control.