Chronic Pain Awareness Month : September 2019

Chronic pain – A complex issue that affects everyone differently. The one thing we all have in common? Chronic pain is a chronic pain in the ass to deal with!

Chronic Pain : A Chronic Problem

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 a myriad of reasons, or maybe no specified reason at all. There are various types – all over pain, specific regions, CRPS, migraines, fibromyalgia, joints, muscles, and so on. A person could have one type, or they may be greedy and have several types of pain to contend with.

Treating pain is equally complex. Acceptance and management of chronic pain is no easy task. For me, I consider it a constant work in progress. Some days I manage it better than others.

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. Chronic pain is a chronic problem.


Pertinent Pain Points

For Chronic Pain Awareness Month 2019, I thought I’d do a brief couple of points on what I’d like more people to be aware of where pain is concerned :

No Choice

  • We don’t choose chronic pain. Chronic pain chooses us.
  • Guilt is a common issue for those with chronic pain and chronic illness. We can be our own worst enemies. There should be no guilt, no blame game. It’s not your fault and you manage the best you can. That will always be good enough.

Medication Shaming

  • Medication shaming needs to stop. It took me a long time of struggling with chronic pain that was rapidly getting worse to accept I needed prescription medications. With these, some semblance of life is possible. The ‘opioid epidemic’ is a problem, but this fear mongering is also dangerous. Many people need prescription medications of some description, taken as per professional guidance, and there should be no shame in that.
  • Medications may help a little but they don’t usually take away the pain, and in many cases they barely touch the pain. Medications typically just help make managing it a little bit easier.

Emotional Impact

  • Pain can make you irritable, angry, upset, frustrated, and generally an emotional jumble at times. It can be incredibly distracting and energy-sapping. It can be a spiral with mental health, anxiety and depression, with the knock-on effects touching other parts of the sufferer’s life.
  • A little patience and consideration can go a long way when dealing with a friend or loved one in pain.

Hidden Pain

  • Chronic pain is, for the most part, an invisible illness/disability. It’s a double-edged problem: heaven forbid if you smile as you’ll be seen as a faker, but putting on that brave face and getting on with life as best we can means we feel isolated, because we don’t necessarily talk about how we’re feeling and nobody can see how much we’re hurting or struggling.

‘Get Well Soon’

  • For the majority, there’s no ‘get well soon’ or quick fix for the pain. 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.

Nothing Compares 2 U

  • 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. Whether moderate or extreme, whether one hour a day or constant, every experience is unique. It’s not a competition and one person’s experience shouldn’t be compared to the next.
  • 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. There should be no comparison nor judgement.

It’s Okay To Not Be Okay

  • Those with chronic illness and/or chronic pain can become masters at saying ‘I’m fine’ and trying to hide the problems and how they’re feeling. They may not want to burden others, but holding this burden themselves can be isolating and exhausting. Sometimes it’s good to let it out and to confide in others in some way, but it’s entirely that person’s choice.
  • It’s okay to not be okay and to feel rubbish about it and to vent your frustration with pain. There’s absolutely no weakness in seeking help, whether physical or psychological, in fact, it’s quite the opposite.

What would you like others to know about chronic pain?

Caz  ♥

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62 Comments

  1. September 23, 2019 / 4:25 pm

    Another fabulous post Caz! You make some outstanding points, especially about respecting individuality, avoiding ‘comparison traps’ and medication shaming. Just as each person experiences pain differently, they also have to learn to manage it in a way that works for them individually. For some, that means lifestyle modifications, for some, medication, and for others, a combination of the two. Finding what works best involves a lot of trial and error sometimes, and as you said, the pain doesn’t ever go completely away, but figuring out our individual self-care plan can help us get out there and live our lives. Thanks for another great article! Hugs!

    • September 27, 2019 / 2:19 pm

      Aw, I’m so glad you liked the post and found the points to be relevant. Thanks, Terri! Hopefully, in time, these sorts of things will become more thought of in general and more accepted, which will really help all of us with chronic illness/chronic pain. Thank you for the lovely comment!

  2. September 23, 2019 / 4:49 pm

    I wish I could wave a magic wand and you’d not have any issues at all and no pain. I really wish I could.

    Have a fabulous day and week, Caz. Thanks for all you do to help the rest of us understand. ♥

    • September 27, 2019 / 2:27 pm

      That’s very kind of you, Sandee. I wish I could wave that wand for everyone, too. If only, eh? Thank you for the lovely comment – Happy Friday! 🌷 xx

  3. September 23, 2019 / 5:00 pm

    Thank you for these thoughts on chronic pain, of which I cannot even try to relate. I do have an uncle who has chronic pain in his arm from surgery and he even became addicted to opioids but have since gone clean. It’s a hard struggle for those that really need the drugs to help them and even harder for everyone else to understand why some end up addicted to them later.

    • September 27, 2019 / 2:33 pm

      I’m so sorry about your uncle, does he still have chronic ongoing pain now? Without opioids, does he have anything to help manage the pain? It’s never really mentioned in the media where the line is with ‘addiction’ when you have chronic pain and use these meds for pain, as it makes it sound as though everyone needing them to manage their conditions must be addicted. I’ve read stories from people who have grown dependent and how incredibly difficult coming off them has been, so well done to your Uncle for getting off their use. Thank you for sharing that, Alice, I think it’s really important to get these kinds of thoughts and opinions and experiences ‘out there’ a little more  ♥ xx

  4. September 23, 2019 / 5:06 pm

    I think you really summed it up:
    It’s Okay Not To Be Okay. Mentioning to someone that today is not a good day would help them to understand why you may not be your normal self. They should know you are not a superhero. Also, they should know you might want to go out for a while so don’t assume she/he is in pain and won’t want to come for a time out. They won’t know until they ask.

    I don’t have chronic pain, but if family or friend would ever suffer, I know the things I can do to help.
    Always appreciate the info you provide Caz.

    • September 27, 2019 / 2:35 pm

      Absolutely, it really does help to know a little more what’s ‘going on behind the scenes’, so to speak, for those with chronic pain. I’m so glad you found the post insightful, thank you for such a wonderful comment, Darnell! It’s much appreciated 😊
      xx

  5. September 23, 2019 / 5:30 pm

    Chronic pain is a chronic problem.
    You summed up what most people, if not all, go through with their illness. I remember the medication shaming, the way people thought that if i kept a positive attitude, my chronic disease would magically disappear. And so I smiled and nodded and acted like everything was fine. And oh, the comparison -everything from “I” and “my mother” to ” the neighbor of my daughters sister in law did this and she’s well now….”
    Great post!

    • September 27, 2019 / 2:37 pm

      I’m sorry you can relate so well! Good point with the positive attitude thing because it can help you manage your days but it doesn’t make the problems and pain disappear, and all too often people can forget there can be a huge mental health impact from illness & pain. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Jina. I hope you have a restful weekend ahead  ♥ xx

  6. September 23, 2019 / 5:41 pm

    I think you’ve said it all. And that there is no way for someone who doesn’t live with it to understand it. I know there is no way I can really understand what you live through (although the emotional pain causes a lot of similarities), there is no way anyone can ever judge, if they do its ignorance and because they want to make it better and hate feeling helpless.
    I’m glad you wrote this. It’s accurate and true.
    I hope you are feeling a little better since the surgery. I hope, wish, pray, dream for it. Though as you said – get well soon doesn’t work.
    Sending bear hugs your way…
    Love, light and glitter

    • September 23, 2019 / 5:42 pm

      Ps. No reblog option?

      • September 27, 2019 / 2:39 pm

        Thank you for such a lovely comment, Eliza. I’m so glad you liked the post and felt the points were important. With the reblog thing… there should (in theory!) be a button by the ‘like’ button. Is there nothing there? If not then I don’t know where it’s gone 😂 If you’d like to reblog any time (which is very kind of you!) it may be a case of copy/pasting the URL in a post. Thank you again for your comment, it’s much appreciated xxxx

  7. September 23, 2019 / 6:47 pm

    You’ve raised excellent points about Chronic Pain – I liked, in particular, the point about Medications and the need for them that some patients have. No one should be shamed for using prescription medication to manage their pain and the whole Opioid crisis needs to be looked at from ALL angles before opinions are formed.

    Thanks for a great post!!

    • September 27, 2019 / 3:19 pm

      Absolutely, all angles should be looked at with the ‘opioid crisis’ and there needs to be more awareness of the nature of chronic (ie ongoing) pain and the need for such medications on an ongoing basis. I’m so glad you liked the post, thank you for the great comment  ♥
      xx

  8. September 23, 2019 / 7:03 pm

    So wise, sensible, and practical—as always, Caz. You sure didn’t give yourself much of a respite, but I’m assuming you’re blogging because you want to and not because you think you have to.

    When I had a total knee replacement a few years ago, the surgeon wanted to get me off opioids pronto. But I have both a low pain threshold and a high wuss factor, and my progress in physical therapy reversed. The therapist sent a note to the surgeon, who sent me to a pain specialist. This dr said, “If you’ve never been addicted to anything all these years, you’re not going to be now.” So I had the opioids as long as I needed them.

    This, your emphasis on individual differences struck me as especially important. I worry about people who need strong medications to function, but have been swept up in the abuse epidemic to their personal detriment.

    Thanks for this fine post.
    Annie cx

    • September 28, 2019 / 3:08 pm

      Thank you for such a wonderfully thoughtful comment, Annie. I find it hard to get away from my computer and the blogging world, but I’m trying to do pace myself a little better without overdoing it too much. As you can see with my tardy reply, I’m already well behind 😆 Your experience after knee replacement shows how beneficial opioids can be for overcoming the barriers with intense pain, and it’s good you had a reasonable doctor who suggested you use them as required because otherwise your recovery could/would have likely taken more steps back without them. Those personal, individual differences are so important because too often the media, and even medical guidelines, seem to have a blanket appeal, and that can be incredibly dangerous.

      Thank you again for such a brilliant comment. I hope your’e having a relaxing weekend  ♥
      xx

  9. September 23, 2019 / 10:55 pm

    People can be so insensitive – I wince to contemplate how many times I’ve put my foot in my mouth over a bazillion issues — that said, it is wonderful that you post this sort of info. I believe that most of us would like to do better – but we need guidance & a bit of reminding. Bravo, dear Caz!

    • September 28, 2019 / 3:16 pm

      Oh no, it’s certainly not meant as a dig at all (apart from to ignorant doctors & individuals who are out to cause hurt). I do think there are just things that, perhaps over time, can be more well known about, to feature more in social awareness. It’s also to show those who’re thinking similar aren’t alone 😊 Hope you have a lovely weekend, da-AL! xx

  10. September 24, 2019 / 12:41 am

    Great post Caz and so true. As someone who has Transverse Myelitis, I am in constant pain and it really gets to me when people helpfully tell you that you need to cut down your medication. The eleven tablets I take 3 times a day are all necessary to help reduce the various nerve, muscular and joint pains I have. I managed to get this down from seventeen but it’s as low as I can go without suffering.

    • September 28, 2019 / 3:58 pm

      I’m so sorry for what you’ve have to go through on a constant basis with pain, and then the challenges with medics and medications. You’re right, too often it’s not considered that medications are actually necessary, vital and can’t be reduced or removed if the patient is in so much chronic pain and unable to function on some kind of reasonable level day to day. I hope you can stand your ground on that and not be pushed with any new ‘guidelines’ coming into place with the whole ‘opioid crisis’ issue, it’s an utter disgrace. Thank you for sharing your experience, Carol (same name as me!) it’s very much appreciated 🌷 xx

  11. September 24, 2019 / 2:59 am

    Powerful post Caz. Your words are so true, everyone deals with pain differently and that should be respected and no one should be shamed about medication you have to do what you have to do for your own wellbeing. Thank you

    • September 28, 2019 / 4:00 pm

      I’m really glad you liked the post, Masha, thank you for the kind comment. I hope you’re doing as well as possible & that you have a relaxing weekend xx

  12. September 24, 2019 / 6:48 am

    Great post, Caz. You’re spot on with everything. But this line stood out, “We don’t choose chronic pain. Chronic pain chooses us.”
    Exactly right. We don’t choose it. Who would? Yet too often, we are vilified as if we’re in the wrong. Wrong for taking meds, wrong for not working etc etc. And yes, so many chronic pain sufferers have invisible conditions. Life really isn’t easy for people who live with pain.

    • September 28, 2019 / 4:03 pm

      I get that feeling too, as though we’re in the wrong or that we could/should have done something differently. Not an easy life at all, no matter where you are on the scale of conditions or pain, it’s never easy. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Liz  ♥
      xx

  13. September 24, 2019 / 8:45 am

    Really great post, Caz. I especially like your final point that it’s okay to not be okay. In fact all of your points hit the nail on the head xx

    • September 28, 2019 / 4:05 pm

      I’m sorry you ‘get it’ and can relate, but at the same time I’m glad you liked the points. Thank you for the lovely comment. I hope you’re keeping as well as possible, Emma – have a relaxing weekend xx

  14. September 24, 2019 / 5:07 pm

    Great post Caz. Pain is there for a reason I hear? Certainly is, but not all pain can be cured and will go away. I have a family member suffering so much atm, and I don’t know what to say to him, and it breaks my heart. Hope today was a good day for you. 👊x

    • September 28, 2019 / 4:10 pm

      It’s weird when you think of pain having a purpose, like to tell us something is wrong, something is hot, something has been broken. Yet so much pain just ‘is’, it’s long lasting with no cure. I’m so sorry about your family member, that’s got to be incredibly tough. I think them knowing how much you care will make all the difference, because they’ll already know (as you do) that others can’t take away their pain and end up feeling helpless, that’s there’s nothing they can do as much as they wish they could  ♥ Don’t underestimate the impact it can have on you worrying about those around you and your family member. Take good care of yourself and I hope you have a relaxing weekend lovely xx

  15. September 24, 2019 / 5:58 pm

    Good one and only the one who deals with it can understand it .We need to be more empathetic and understanding.This post is sure to create the awareness.

    • September 28, 2019 / 4:17 pm

      Absolutely, it’s such an individual experience, but more understanding and compassion can go a long way. Thank you for the comment, Nisha – hope you have a lovely weekend! 😊 xx

  16. September 24, 2019 / 6:29 pm

    Thank you so much for these reminders–they are helpful!!!

    • September 28, 2019 / 4:18 pm

      Glad you thought so, thanks! I hope you’re keeping well this week lovely! xx

  17. September 25, 2019 / 2:05 am

    Thank you so much for spreading awareness of how difficult it is to live with chronic pain!

    • September 28, 2019 / 4:19 pm

      And thank you so much for reading & commenting, it’s much appreciated 🌷 xx

  18. September 25, 2019 / 3:40 am

    Caz, this was an amazing post with great knowledge. Your skills, passion and determination are always refreshing. I really do admire you Caz!

    • September 28, 2019 / 4:29 pm

      Aww this is so lovely to hear, Alyssa. I may not agree with you but I’m learning to take compliments 😂 Thank you!! I’m glad you liked the post, and I hope you’re keeping as well as possible with everything you’ve got going on right now xxxx

  19. September 25, 2019 / 4:10 am

    Such a great post. Everything else, even easy everyday activities, are so much more difficult with pain. It’s a struggle somedays to put on a friendly face and not be irritable when in pain. And I totally agree that medication shaming needs to stop NOW. Addicts ruined opioids for those who really need it. Many forms of pain aren’t touched by anything over the counter.

    Thanks for always raising awareness on these important issues!

    • September 28, 2019 / 4:51 pm

      So true with how pain makes everyday things that much more difficult, and that chronic pain usually isn’t touched by over the counter relief. Thank you for your input, Lindsay – I think all personal experiences count when it comes to cutting through the stigma and raising awareness, perhaps in particular where the opioid crisis issue is concerned right now! xx

  20. September 25, 2019 / 11:17 am

    Brilliant post Caz. I always remember when I was first diagnosed with MS the neurologist said it ‘doesn’t cause pain’ – tell that to my painful legs and cramping toes!! this post is a brilliant way to share awareness xx

    • September 28, 2019 / 4:55 pm

      Too often specialists seem to ignore or downplay symptoms that certain conditions, like MS, can cause. I experienced the same with a lot of my diagnoses, too. I wonder if they think ‘if I don’t tell them, they won’t experience it’? Thank you for the comment, Jen – I hope you have a restful weekend  ♥ xx

  21. September 25, 2019 / 11:28 am

    Trying to read and respond to this blog post has been a real comedy of errors over the last 24 hours. Probably because I’m one of the greedy ones and right now I am feasting! It’s much like my diagnoses, where my body is determined to catch ’em all. 🙄😂 Thanks for always providing a chuckle or two while discussing such tough subjects!

    You’ve done a masterful job of covering the subject and I found myself nodding along to every point. Thanking you for spreading awareness of these problems. Xx

    • September 28, 2019 / 4:58 pm

      You definitely are greedy with your diagnoses & symptoms! 😂 I’m sorry you can relate and nod along to the points, which makes it a tough one with wanting to say ‘I’m glad you agree’! Thank you for such a kind comment – I hope you have a relaxing weekend lovely xx

  22. September 26, 2019 / 4:37 am

    I think that might be the most troubling thing: the get well soon thing. You start to feel, the more people ask how you are, that they only want to hear that you are ‘better’ even though there really is no better.

    • September 28, 2019 / 5:00 pm

      It’s frustrating, isn’t it? Most of the time I think people mean well, other times they perhaps don’t. There’s just a lot of misunderstanding and lack of knowledge around ‘chronic’ problems. And then we feel crappy about it after such comments, feeling frustrated that people don’t ‘get it’ and sad that there’s no ‘getting better’. Thank you for the comment, Jay. I’m sorry you know what it’s like with the ‘get well soon’ issue  ♥ xx

  23. September 26, 2019 / 11:13 pm

    This post is thorough–touching on different ways chronic pain affects someone physically, mentally, emotionally–and I love that. I especially like that you brought up feeling guilty. Though my pain isn’t as bad as many people’s, I do have chronic fatigue, so I understand feeling like you wish you got more accomplished during the day or wishing you had the energy/ability to do more. You’re right that we need to stop doing that to ourselves; it’s no one’s fault, and whether others understand or not, chronic illness is real and debilitating. We just need to do the best we can and leave guilt at the door. ♥

    • September 28, 2019 / 5:02 pm

      You are so right, Lily – there should be less self-judgement, less guilt, and generally we probably all need to be a little kinder to ourselves. We can only do our best and that needs to be enough. Thank you for such a thoughtful comment, it’s much appreciated 🌷 xx

  24. September 28, 2019 / 6:32 am

    A great post that helps raise awareness about chronic pain. I love the ‘pertinent points’ section to make people more aware of what it is like. It’s hard for people to get talking, but we need to talk more about it to help others understand xx PS Thanks for your comment on my post about my ‘like’ button – I seem to have the same issue on your site 🙁 I’ve no idea why it doesn’t work

    • September 28, 2019 / 5:07 pm

      Sometimes I have to re-load blogs (including mine) to make the ‘like’ button appear, but sometimes, like with yours, no amount of reloading seems to work. Frustrating WP! I’m really glad you liked this post and found the points to be important, so thank you very much for letting me know!  ♥ xx

  25. September 28, 2019 / 12:59 pm

    Thank you for writing this, Caz. I needed to see it, especially this morning. 🙂 xo

    • September 28, 2019 / 5:08 pm

      Thank you, Kymber – Sending hugs your way, be kind to yourself & I hope you can have a restful weekend ♥ 🌷 xx

  26. September 28, 2019 / 4:57 pm

    Yes to everything here! It’s definitely okay to not be okay, and I am never okay anymore when it comes to pain.

    • September 28, 2019 / 5:10 pm

      I’m glad you agree on that, it feels like there can be a lot of pressure to ‘get on with it’ and be happy and to manage well all the time. It doesn’t work like that. We’re all different, and it’s definitely okay to not be okay, it’s not a sign of weakness. Thank you for the comment xx

  27. September 29, 2019 / 10:08 pm

    It’s okay to not be okay. That is music to my ears Caz. Ever since I fell down a flight of stairs in January 2013 I have been in severe pain.
    There are days it is almost unbearable, but I continue to smile and do my best to inspire others.

    You are an inspiration. A fighter,. Thoughtful soul. And greater reader of poetry.

    It is okay to not be okay. Thank you for spreading this wisdom.

    • September 30, 2019 / 3:35 pm

      I’m sorry you know all too well what living with chronic pain is like, Drew. But in spite of that, your words certainly do uplift and nurture all of those who are blessed to read them, making you a balm for the soul. Thank you for such a kind comment, it’s very much appreciated. It may be wishful thinking, but I hope you can have a low-as-possible pain week ahead x

  28. September 29, 2019 / 10:58 pm

    Charlee: “Chronic pain, we don’t have it, but we can imagine how rough it must be.”
    Chaplin: “Do purrs help at all? Because we’ll purr for everyone who has it.”
    Lulu: “And I’ll do floofy tail wags, too.”
    Charlee: “It’s not medicine, but maybe it’ll do some good!”

    • September 30, 2019 / 3:37 pm

      Those magical purrs & fluffy tail wags are the best medicine! I hope you’re all being good for Dada this week 😊 x

  29. October 1, 2019 / 11:19 pm

    Eloquently written, thorough article, Caz!! Thank you! You’re just spot on with so many points. With “opioid hysteria”, I really fear having my meds taken away! As you said in your post, we don’t medicate to be pain free, we medicate to have some semblance of a life-a life which is still incredibly limited, based on the day of the week or the color of the socks we’re wearing. I’m glad too that you highlighted the many ways that chronic illness can affect both our lives and the lives of those we love. It really is just an octopus of a mess that is held over us! Great read! Thank you! Stace

    • December 6, 2019 / 3:55 pm

      I’m sorry I’ve only just spotted your comment, d’oh! Absolutely, when living with relentless chronic pain the picture is very different, it’s medication to help us have some semblance of a life; if we didn’t have the pain, we wouldn’t need or use the medication. It’s worrying to think that the ‘opioid hysteria’ could result in those needing these things not being able to get it. Thank you for such a fab comment, Stace!  ♥ xx

  30. December 3, 2019 / 11:02 pm

    Thanks Caz, not sure why it’s so upsetting to read this post. Guess you have written everything that I thought NOBODY understood. Family and friends are wonderful and helpful and supportive but they can’t totally get it. I will show them this. Aiming towards accepting it’s okay not to be okay but keeping my superwoman cape on, lol. Really inspirational, I wish you well and thank you. Tracy x

    • December 6, 2019 / 3:59 pm

      Aw Tracy, I’m not sure what to say. I’m sorry you get what all of this is like all too well. This is part of why I think the online world can be such a blessing because while all of our experiences are unique, those in the chronic illness community ‘get’ what it’s like. It can become exhausting saying you’re fine and trying to keep up with day to day life with your superwoman cape, and we end up feeling guilty if we take time out. I do think it’s a constant work in progress to practice self care and acknowledge that it’s okay not to be okay. I’m always around if ever you want to chat, just drop me an email. Take good care of yourself, and I hope you have a restful weekend ahead (give that cape a break!)  ♥ xx

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