Chronic Pain Definition
Chronic pain: it’s not just “in your head”
Far too often, chronic pain sufferers are treated as though they are “milking” the pain for sympathy points. Some might even believe you are exaggerating or outright fabricating your pain for secondary gain. The problem of course is that only you can experience your pain (i.e., it is subjective), and so no one else can truly know what you are going through. Unlike a broken bone that everyone can clearly see, pain cannot be diagnosed objectively (in fact, two people with seemingly identical problems can have wildly different pain experiences). Furthermore, the chronicity of your pain actually serves to allow you to adapt. Thus, you may have learned to cope, which further misleads people into thinking you are doing “ok”. While someone with acute pain will wear it all over their face, understanding a chronic pain sufferer requires reading between the lines.
Other health problems can arise secondary to long-term pain
And these can further create a vicious cycle. Consider depression. A formerly happy patient may sink into a clinical depression after chronic pain takes away the activities he/she enjoys and makes life feel better worthless as it seems the pain will never go away. Then the depression takes root and breeds helplessness and disinterest that only makes it harder to treat and overcome the problems you are facing. Add in the effects on sleep and it’s easy to see how pain needs to be viewed holistically with its effects throughout the body, not just at the physical site of pain.
Chronic pain can be a lonely experience
The issues discussed above can lead a pain sufferer to become isolated from friends, coworkers, family, everyone. It is for this reason that having a support system in place is of vital importance. Having people you can talk to without judgment—be that family members, support groups, or online forums—is a necessary component to a healthy healing process. It may not treat the physical pain, but it will help ease the burden of the emotional one.
Medicine is only now catching up
For too long doctors have been skeptical of patients with chronic pain. They believed that the patient was either broken or fixed, and if there was nothing to see, there was nothing to treat. We know now that this is not the case. Find a doctor that you feel comfortable talking about your pain with, as this will make it possible to get the help you need. He or she will not only be able to offer support but also guidance and advice about your condition. In this way you may be able to harness your own mind to help overcome your chronic pain.
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