September : Pain Awareness Month

 

I wanted to do a post in honour of September being Pain Awareness Month, to show that pain is complex and that you’re not alone if you struggle with chronic pain.

Pain can affect you physically, socially and psychologically, impacting everything from sleep and mental wellbeing, to work and relationships. Acute pain, such as following a bone break or muscle sprain, is generally short lived, compared to chronic pain, which is ongoing (generally considered a period of over 3 months). For those with the latter, relentless pain can be a constant battle.

Chronic pain can arise for various reasons or as a result of numerous conditions, from nerve damage following injury, rheumatoid arthritis and ageing, to migraines, CRPS, MS and fibromyalgia, to name but a few examples. A BMJ study review suggested a 43% prevalence of chronic pain in the UK, equating to 28 million people. Meanwhile, other research suggests around 100 million Americans, and 1.5 billion people worldwide, suffer from chronic pain. Pain is a problem.

Treating pain is complex. There’s a lot of debate over treatment and media attention on the ‘opioid crisis’. There’s a range of over the counter and prescription medications, as well as non-medicinal interventions to ease symptoms, such as acupuncture, swimming or heat pads. It’s wise to be cautious and to investigate the options open to you, working with your doctor or specialist to see what choices are best for you so that you can discover the treatments that are the most effective and best tolerated. Medications and non-medicinal therapies don’t tend to make the pain go away, but they can help to alleviate it; finding what works with the least side-effects can be a lengthy process of trial and error.

Managing pain on a day to day basis is challenging to say the least. Pacing is one aspect of pain management that many will be familiar with. Frustrating as it may be, pacing can be crucial in minimising burnout and putting the focus back on self care. Reach out for support and talk to others if you can. There are online forums, blogs and support groups, many of which can be found on Facebook, where you will find a lot of others in a similar boat, each trying to navigate the difficult days. Not only can this help you feel a little less alone, it may open up new avenues for you to explore and to find suggestions from others to try. There’s absolutely no weakness in seeking help, whether physical or psychological, in fact, it’s quite the opposite.

There are various things I’d like others to know when raising awareness about chronic pain. For instance :

  • One doesn’t simply “get over” pain. While attitude and perspective play their own roles, it’s not as easy as “mind over matter”. Pain is real, it’s alive, and it’s debilitating.
  • There are okay days, awful days, better days and everything in between. Not every day is the same and this means pain is often unpredictable, as is the case with many aspects of chronic illness.
  • Those with chronic pain may look “fine”, but pain tends to be invisible. Sufferers can become adept at putting on appearances and getting through the day, not showing the pain they feel and often not talking about it openly.
  • Pain medication can help mitigate some pain and make it more manageable; it doesn’t make it magically disappear.
  • It’s not a competition and one person’s experience shouldn’t be compared to the next. Whether moderate or extreme, whether one hour a day or constant. It’s okay to not be okay and to feel rubbish about it and to vent your frustration with pain.
  • Respect individuality. Everyone has their own pain tolerance level, their own opinions on medication, their own ways of managing pain, and their own unique experience of pain.
  • Chronic pain arises for numerous reasons, it’s sadly all too common to varying degrees, and it can have a huge knock-on effect to all areas of life. 

Caz  

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36 Comments

  1. September 11, 2018 / 3:57 pm

    Thank you for sharing what you know and what many others can only imagine.

    Have a blessed day. ♥

    • September 15, 2018 / 9:48 pm

      I don’t experience it to the high degrees far too many do, but I would never wish what I do experience on anyone. It’s certainly an issue that’s not well understood, nor well treated, despite so many people struggling with chronic pain day in, day out. Thank you for reading and your great comment – I hope the weekend is a positive one for you 🙂
      x

  2. Samantha
    September 11, 2018 / 5:07 pm

    Personally, the pain I have and continue to experience has changed me. It affects me on a deeply soulful level, morphing my viiew of the world accordingly. It was only following surgery and experiencing a period of relief that I became consciously aware of the agony I had lived with. Aware of the needless suffering I had endured and the incremental nature of pains affects, growing severity over long periods of suffering and the ability of our minds and bodies to adapt to coping with pain. What I find is a vastly ignorant publics understanding of the insidious nature of pain associated with serious illness. Most can only relate to broken bones or tummy/tooth ache, which is the general rule but the same mechanisms to cope with decreasing pain are not the same as the whole person response to chronic pain. Chronic pain demands resources from every physiological system to cope. It draws from every part of us as a means of combating the debilitating nature of it. It consumes your life force because chronic pain is equally powerful and pervasive. During any period of relief, my body rejoices in the normality of a system unhindered by pain and just like that, I remember and can be, who I am, free from the constant internal focus demanded by pain and my view becomes outward looking again. I become interactive, not shackled to the anchoring agony of a body being torn apart on the inside. This, for me, has shown me the depths of my self in ways tooth ache never has.

    Glad to see your post and have the opportunity to add to the topic.

    • September 15, 2018 / 9:46 pm

      You have captured the “insidious nature of pain” and what it takes to deal with it, what happens to you as an individual as a result, so incredibly well. Nothing can match up to chronic pain on such a level, not tooth ache nor a broken bone. Thank you so much for sharing this, it’s an incredibly powerful insight. x

  3. September 11, 2018 / 5:07 pm

    Thank you Caz. The numbers of people suffering pain is quite shocking. I did not realize it was so huge. 🌼

    • September 15, 2018 / 9:47 pm

      It is quite eye-opening and saddening to know so many deal with chronic pain to varying degrees. Thank you for reading and the comment, Brigid! I hope the weekend is kind to you 🙂
      xx

  4. September 11, 2018 / 5:16 pm

    Chronic pain is often neglected by doctors, but very difficult to deal with. It is very important to find a physician who treats this condition thoroughly, but these doctors are hard to find. Thanks for posting about this important topic, Caz.

    • September 15, 2018 / 9:43 pm

      You’re right, doctors who appreciate it and can handle it effectively are hard to find but it’s important to not give up, to ask for a second opinion, to do a little digging and find options to manage pain that are most suitable for you as an individual. Thanks for the great comment! 🙂
      xx

  5. September 11, 2018 / 6:31 pm

    Excellent post! In my experience, you don’t “get it until you GET IT”. While I can’t wish for anyone to get a chronic illness, I really wish more people understood. Did I mention excellent post?

    • September 15, 2018 / 9:38 pm

      You’re spot on with that – you can’t fully understand it unless you’ve experienced it, but it would help for more people, especially those treating patients with pain, to empathise, to show compassion, to appreciate a little of the difficult nature of living with pain and the impact it has on lives. Glad you liked the post! Thank you so much for the fab comment – Hope you have a restful weekend, Grace 🙂
      xx

  6. September 11, 2018 / 8:17 pm

    Absolutely amazing and brilliant post Caz! Living with chronic pain isn’t fun and it can be overwhelming frustrating. This “opioid crisis” is just a little ridiculous! Part of me thinks this crisis is government made, but I could be wrong. I love my heating pad as it really does help my back SO much. Crazy thing is, the heating pad helps my legs as well and they already feel like they are on fire! I feel like many people and that includes doctors just do not understand how much of a strain pain is on our lives. Thank you so much for sharing this fantastic post!!!!

    • September 15, 2018 / 9:36 pm

      I’m not sure with the ‘opioid crisis’ either, but I do think it raises a good point for patients to be a little weary with medications (not to shy away from them necessarily, but to ask questions, know what they’re taking, be involved in the decision-making process because all too often we’re not told the important things about meds until after we’ve been taking them rather than before). I’m glad the heading pad helps! You’re right, many just don’t ‘get it’, and it’s frustrating that those who are there to help patients don’t fully appreciate the impact it has because then the patient doesn’t get the due compassion or treatment that’s truly required. I’m so glad you liked the post – thank you for the great comment! =]
      xx

  7. Ashleyleia
    September 11, 2018 / 9:04 pm

    The opioid crisis seems to have brought a lot of negative attention to pain medication, when really no one deserves a say in a person’s pain management plan except for the individual experiencing pain and their treatment team.

    • September 15, 2018 / 9:33 pm

      You’re right, it’s an individual’s choice working alongside their specialist/doctor; be weary of medications (ie. ask enough questions, know what you’re taking, prepare yourself because too often we’re not told the important things) but the choice isn’t something others have the right to judge. x

  8. September 11, 2018 / 9:11 pm

    Brilliant post Caz. I never had any idea so many people lived with chronic pain. x Thank you for sharing such an amazing post and raising awareness about this. xxx

    • September 15, 2018 / 9:32 pm

      It’s shocking just how many people experience regular pain to varying degrees. Thank you for reading and commenting, Heather! I hope you (and Dizzy dearest!) have a good weekend =]
      xx

  9. September 11, 2018 / 10:16 pm

    This is an outstanding post Caz! It’s hard for people to really understand what chronic pain is if they haven’t experienced it. Shared this on my FB page.

    • September 15, 2018 / 9:26 pm

      You’re right, without experiencing it it’s hard to understand what it’s like, what day to day life is like and the impact pain can have. I’m really glad you liked the post – thank you so much for sharing and for the comment, Terri! xx

  10. September 12, 2018 / 9:03 am

    Great post Caz! It’s definitely an important issue, which is should be recognised and believed.

    • September 15, 2018 / 9:25 pm

      I’m glad you agree! Thank you for the comment, Vanessa – Have a good weekend =]
      xx

  11. September 12, 2018 / 9:26 am

    Caz, as so many commenters have pointed out; pain is such an important issue for many and needs our awareness.
    Many of my dancing friends suffer pain. Some because of age, some due to illness, and others due to dancing and the stress this places upon their joints. For whatever reason, pain is pain, debilitating for so many.

    • September 15, 2018 / 9:24 pm

      You’re right, pain can be a result of many things and regardless of the cause or type, pain is still pain and it still has an effect on lives. Thank you for the great comment, Carolyn! x

  12. September 12, 2018 / 10:07 am

    Completely agree with this, so many of us suffer in silence. I love how well researched your posts are!

    • September 15, 2018 / 4:53 pm

      Suffering in silence is painful, but hopefully the more awareness is raised, the more perspectives can change and open conversations can be made then people will start to feel less alone and be able to reach out. Thank you for the comment! 🙂

  13. September 14, 2018 / 11:57 am

    Especially for those who develop chronic health conditions so young and experience pain with it – they can go hugely misunderstood by not only medical professionals but friends, family and work colleagues/managers. It’s just not well understood really.

    • September 15, 2018 / 4:52 pm

      Not well understood at all, and there’s still stigma and misdiagnosis where younger sufferers are concerned (“too young” to have this or that…) Thank you for the comment, Rachel 🙂

  14. Mrs. Ram’s Jams
    September 14, 2018 / 8:26 pm

    Yes! Good points! This reminds me I need to do a pain awareness post this month too.

    • September 15, 2018 / 4:50 pm

      Thank you – Look forward to reading your awareness post, too! 🙂

  15. September 16, 2018 / 12:34 am

    (((((((((hugs)))))))))
    You really inspire me. Thank you…

    • September 18, 2018 / 4:53 pm

      Aw that is such a lovely thing to say, thank you. The same goes to you – Keep finding those reasons because there are so many times when thinking of them is hard, and you always find a way and offer new thoughts and ideas to others in the process 🙂
      xx

  16. September 17, 2018 / 3:55 pm

    Hi Caz – I have mentioned you and shared your post in a shout out on Magic Magic Inspiring Blogs for You! Claire x

    • September 18, 2018 / 4:51 pm

      I saw that a little earlier – thank you very much! I hope all goes well with your upcoming appointments this month, Claire 🙂
      xx

  17. September 26, 2018 / 8:32 am

    Wow this is so accurate and really useful. I’m going to share this with those who don’t understand hmwhat we go through suffering with chronic pain. Thanks so much for such an honest post.

    • September 26, 2018 / 4:15 pm

      I’m so glad you found it relatable and useful – Thank you so much for sharing & the kind comment! I hope the rest of the week is kind to you, Bethan 🙂
      xx

  18. October 8, 2018 / 2:53 pm

    A wonderful share Caz, it’s heartening to know what chronic pain can do . Most of us take to be pain free for granted until we experience it .Thanks for sharing the awareness.

    • October 8, 2018 / 4:00 pm

      You’re right, I think the pain-free state is more natural and therefore something taken ‘as is’, or for granted’, until something changes and pain is experienced. Thank you for the wonderful comment, Nisha – I hope you have a good week ahead 🙂
      xx

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