10 Dangerous Myths About Pain Relief
Whether it’s a headache, a sore muscle or a stiff back, pain can derail your day. It’s hard to focus on the things you have to do when your temples are throbbing, or your wrist cries out in pain every time you try to simply type an email. That’s why pain relievers are a staple in most individual’s medicine cabinets. But if you’re managing your pain the wrong way, you could make it worse or prolong it, as well as usher in other problems. Your friends and family members mean well, but they may have been feeding you myths on how to tackle pain. Your mom’s childhood remedies that involved a frozen steak, and a netty pot may not hold up anymore. Here are some of the top myths about pain and pain relief that need to be busted today.
Myth: Rest a bad back
A tweaked back can be terrifying—so terrifying that we don’t want to move at all. After a back injury, it can feel like any time you try to pick something up or open a heavy door that you risk a visit to the emergency room. For this reason, a lot of people believe lying totally still in bed until the pain goes away is the right move.
Fact: You need to move a little
If you don’t move at all after you’ve hurt your back, you can make your back so weak that it hurts, even more, when you finally do move. Talk to a chiropractor or physical therapist about stretches and yoga poses you can do to strengthen your back.
Myth: You’re just a hypochondriac
If you have lived with chronic pain for quite some time, you may have visited dozens of doctors who cannot determine your problem. If this happens, you might start to believe the pain is in your head—that you’re a complainer or a hypochondriac.
Fact: Some conditions are hard to spot
Some conditions—like fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome—are difficult to spot. Most doctors won’t find these conditions through the standard tests they put you through. If you’re in pain, it’s not in your head, and the right doctor will prove it.
Myth: A little pain is no big deal
Too many people live with a small pain here or there—like a knee that hurts at night or a hip that can’t handle much pressure—and think that’s no reason to see a doctor.
Fact: It is a sign of something big
Pain is your brain’s way of signaling that something is wrong. Your small pain could be your body’s only current way of communicating a larger problem. If you live with daily pain, you should see a doctor.
Myth: You can be addicted to pain meds
It seems like every week a new celebrity goes to rehab for a pain medication addiction, and films and TV often portray people on pain medication as lifeless zombies. It’s no surprise many people are afraid to take pain meds, even when prescribed them.
Fact: You suffer temporary withdrawal
Your doctor will give you instructions as to how you should use pain medication for your particular needs. If you follow his instructions diligently, you should not become addicted to your medication. However, some people suffer mild withdrawal symptoms if they’ve been taking medication for a long time and stop abruptly.
Myth: More pills means more relief
If your headache doesn’t stop, you probably pop another painkiller, right? And the bottle usually says something like, “If pain persists, two pills may be taken.” So, logic would tell you that more pills mean more relief.
Fact: Your body can become desensitized
If you take the maximum dosage of pills for several consecutive days, your body can become desensitized to it. At that point, you won’t receive pain relief, but you might put yourself at risk of certain side effects from overdosing.
Myth: Pain during exercise is okay
The saying, “No pain, no gain” is a dangerous one, but one that a lot of people believe. Your personal trainer might even push you until you say you’re in pain, and only then say you’ve done enough work.
Fact: There’s no proof of this
There is no proof that pushing your body to the point of pain helps strengthen the body. All doctors know is that pain is your body’s way of saying, “This isn’t good for me, please stop.”
Myth: There are no long-term side effects
Unfortunately, many people believe that there are no long-term side effects of taking pain medication for prolonged periods of time, or on a daily basis.
Fact: Yes, there are
Some pain medication can affect your libido or increase your risk of osteoporosis. Do not take any medication regularly without consulting your doctor first, even pain medication.
Myth: Weight and pain are not related
The relationship between weight and pain is a sensitive subject that can make overweight individuals feel victimized. It can also be hard to believe that dropping ten pounds would relieve a persistent pain.
Fact: A little weight goes a long way
Research shows that any amount of excess body weight can put pressure on the area of your body that is in pain, and make matters worse.
Myth: Pain is a part of aging
Men and women over 40 often accept chronic pain is a part of aging and believe that there’s not much a doctor could do for them.
Fact: It doesn’t have to be
Most individuals should be able to live long lives that are predominantly pain-free. Pain is not a symptom of age and always a symptom of a condition that your doctor should review.
Myth: Treating the pain is enough
Many people believe that if the pain is gone, the problem is gone. Or others believe that pain is unrelated to anything else, so as long as it’s gone, the problem is solved.
Fact: Pain is only part of the problem
Even though your pain is gone, you still may not be able to function at your absolute best. If you feel weak, can’t move fast, or feel stiff, you shouldn’t just accept it because you don’t feel pain.