Common Misconceptions about Pain
Chronic pain is, as we have discussed, a very complex condition with numerous interacting vicious cycles of problems. One of the factors that worsens this is the fact that whereas acute pain can be an indication of damage or harm, and quite rightly can lead to us resting or avoiding using the affected part of our body, this is not the case in chronic pain. The messages of chronic pain may make us want to reduce activity and function, but this is precisely the wrong thing to do as is discussed elsewhere in these pages.
Until the early 1990's, in fact, it was common for doctors and other health professionals to advise people with pain to rest, but thankfully nowadays as the result of resarch and education this misleading advice is now known to be wrong.
- Pain can always be controlled / improved - it cannot.
- Doctors can always find a cause for pain - they often cannot but this usually means the cause is not sinister.
- It is unsafe to use analgesia to maintain activity for fear of masking damage - this is not true.
- Rest is good for pain until I 'heal up' - you may never 'heal' and exercise is positively beneficial for many reasons.
- Many people become convinced that "hurt must equal harm". In chronic pain, this is wrong and it is important to understand that "Hurt does not equal harm!"
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Pain Service Website, Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
Webmaster Dr J G de Courcy, Consultant in Pain Medicine and Anaesthesia
Page updated 22/6/2016