Chronic pain is a complex and challenging condition that affects millions of people worldwide.
While doctors strive to provide their patients with the best possible care, there are certain things they may not always disclose.
Here are three things most doctors will not tell you about chronic pain that you should know.
1. Your pain might not have a cure
While you may be eager to find the underlying cause of your pain so that it can be treated and eliminated once and for all, the truth is that chronic pain often has no clear cause.
Even when there is an identifiable cause, it can be difficult to treat. Research has shown that chronic pain can be a complex and multi-faceted condition that involves not just physical factors, but also psychological and social factors.
A study published in the journal “Pain” in 2016 found that psychological factors such as anxiety, depression, and catastrophizing - a tendency to view situations as worse than they are - can all contribute to the development and persistence of chronic pain.
Ideally, doctors should encourage you to focus on managing your pain through a variety of methods, such as medication, physical therapy, or complementary therapies, rather than trying to find a cure.
In fact, research has shown that a multidisciplinary approach to pain management, which involves a combination of different therapies, can be highly effective in reducing pain and improving the quality of life for anyone with chronic pain.
2. You may need to make lifestyle changes
Lifestyle changes can play a critical role in managing their symptoms.
While medication can be helpful in reducing pain, it is only one piece of the puzzle.
Research has shown that lifestyle changes such as regular exercise, weight loss, and healthy eating can all have a significant impact on reducing pain levels and improving overall quality of life.
A study published in the “Journal of Pain” in 2017 found that exercise can be an effective treatment for chronic pain, as it can help to reduce inflammation, strengthen muscles, and improve flexibility.
A healthy diet that is rich in anti-inflammatory foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins can also help to reduce inflammation in the body, which can contribute to chronic pain.
A study published in the journal “Arthritis & Rheumatology” in 2017 found that a Mediterranean-style diet, which emphasizes these types of foods, was associated with a reduction in pain and an improvement in physical function in people with knee osteoarthritis.
3. Your mental health is just as important as your physical health
Living with chronic pain can be isolating and frustrating, and take a toll on your mental health.
Doctors may not always disclose the importance of addressing mental health concerns in addition to physical symptoms.
Research has shown that chronic pain is strongly associated with mental health conditions such as anxiety, depression, and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
A study published in the journal “Pain” in 2018 found that people with chronic pain were more likely to experience anxiety and depression than people without chronic pain.
Mental health conditions can worsen chronic pain symptoms, creating a vicious cycle. For example, anxiety and depression can increase pain sensitivity, which can lead to increased pain and disability.
It is important for doctors to address both physical and mental health concerns in people with chronic pain.
In addition to seeking help from health professionals, there are also things you can do on your own to support your mental health.
Practicing relaxation techniques such as meditation or deep breathing can help to reduce stress and anxiety. Staying socially connected with friends and family can help to reduce feelings of isolation and depression. Engaging in activities that bring joy and purpose can also help to improve mood and overall wellbeing.
Addressing mental health concerns is not a sign of weakness or failure. Rather, it is a necessary part of managing chronic pain and improving overall quality of life.
Sarno Clinic advances the Dr. John Sarno method for healing chronic pain.