Health Guides: Chronic Musculoskeletal Pain (CMP)

5 Chronic Pain Myths

Get better pain management by dispelling common misconceptions about chronic pain.

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Be careful not to fall for any of the common chronic pain myths. These so-called "facts" can undermine your pain management plan before it ever gets off the ground. How? They convince you that your chronic pain is in the driver's seat and that there's little you can do about your aches and pains. The solution: Clear your mind of any mistaken beliefs you've adopted, starting with these myths:

Chronic pain always has an underlying cause.
Fact: Pain sometimes travels alone.

Not all chronic pain can be linked to an identifiable physical condition or injury. Sure, that minor car accident 3 months ago might have triggered your back pain, or maybe too many hours on the soccer field caused your knee pain. Or maybe not. Sometimes pain develops for no apparent reason. Still, the discomfort is very real. Although it's more difficult to relieve pain without an identifiable cause, you can effectively manage it.

Medication is the only way to relieve chronic pain.
Fact:
Pain management can include many approaches.

When we think pain relief, we often think pain pills -- whether over-the-counter or prescription pain medication, or even stronger and potentially addictive opioids for more severe pain. But pills aren't the only way to manage pain. You can add an array of alternative pain relief methods to your arsenal, including a healthier diet, exercise, sound sleep, and simple self-care pain remedies.

Chronic pain is an inevitable part of aging.
Fact:
Aches and pains can strike at any age.

The notion that you should expect pain as you age -- and learn to live with it -- is an ongoing myth about growing older. One example: Back pain more commonly strikes middle-age (35- to 50-year-old) adults than any other age group. Whatever your age, talk to your doctor about any chronic aches, pains, or discomfort.

Admitting you're in pain is a sign of weakness.
Fact:
Acknowledging your pain is a sign of courage and strength.

It takes courage to accept chronic pain, but doing so is the best first step to treating it. Suffering constant pain in silence is no way to cope.

Bed rest is best for reducing chronic pain.
Fact:
Moving through the pain helps improve it.

When your knee arthritis, achy hip, or lower-back pain flares up, it's tempting to simply curl up in bed. While your doc may recommend bed rest when pain is especially severe, making it a daily habit will only intensify your discomfort. Even gentle movement or stretching works better to relieve pain than grinding to a complete standstill. Plus, regular doctor-approved workouts boost the release of pain-relieving neurotransmitters, such as dopamine and serotonin.