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No Pain, No Gain? No Way!

"Debunking the myths about pain"
By: Stef dela Cruz, MDNo Pain, No Gain? No Way!

Try floating the words weight loss and fitness among your friends and they are bound to tell you about how they work hard at the gym, lifting weights to increase muscle mass but suffering the cursory next-day muscle soreness. “No pain, no gain,” they might even say.

It’s such a common saying, which is why it has helped fuel the misconception that pain, especially when mild, does not necessarily need treatment. Myths about pain abound, influenced by our diverse orientations with regards to culture, religion, and gender.

7 Myths about pain you may still believe to this day

We look at pain with fearful eyes. We fear it in its entirety, from its cause and its mere presence, to its distant outcome.As is usually the case, fear fosters shame, which then leads to ignorance. Thus, many myths about pain – the one symptom feared by many – still exist to this day.

Myth #1: Pain is always a bad thing.

Ask the people around you what they think of pain and they’ll tell you many unpleasant stories. If health was a movie, pain would definitely get cast as a bad guy!Yes, pain does paralyze us. However, it also mobilizes us. It may keep us from doing everyday tasks, but it also pushes us to do something about whatever is ailing our bodies.

Myth #2: Pain always exists for a reason.

Have you ever heard of phantom pain? Here’s a clue: It is not pain inflicted by ghosts.People who lose a limb sometimes experience “phantom” pain. It’s so called because they feel that, for instance, their arm itches or hurts, even if that arm has already been surgically amputated or traumatically cut off during an accident.

Our bodies aren’t perfect. Although pain serves as a protective mechanism, our wonderfully-built systems sometimes fail. The result: We end up suffering from pain even if there’s no reason for us to even feel anything in the first place.

Myth #3: We all experience pain in the same way.

A psychologist theorized that people who love spicy food are “benign masochists”. Behavioral science writer Eric Jaffe wrote that during the 2010 Association of Psychological Science (APS) Symposium, APS fellow Dr. Paul Rozin theorized about how people who love chili peppers are those who “enjoy eating something that brings them the most possible pain they can stand.”

Man’s desire to eat chili peppers and experience the burn, to this day, cannot be explained completely. How we view the world is the result of our complex personalities and bodies. What may be painful for you may be pleasurable for me.

Myth #4: If there’s no visible cause, the pain must be “all in your head.”

Pain is a personal experience, making it difficult for doctors to pinpoint all the causes of different aches experienced by different people. However, in no way does this mean that a failure to spot the cause of pain confirms its “merely psychological” nature.

In a 2006 issue of Chronicle, published by the American Pain Association, Sally Price wrote that it’s not possible to determine all the possible causes of pain. Regardless of whether the cause is identified or not, the pain can be as real as it gets.

Myth #5: Curing the cause means curing the pain.

This myth probably fuels many a falling-out between patient and doctor. Imagine this scenario: Patient sees doctor because of pain. Doctor identifies cause of pain and treats it. Pain does not go away. Patient finds another doctor.Sometimes, pain decides to hang around way after the supposed cause has been eliminated.

Myth #6: Pain meds are addictive.

There are different types of drugs for pain. While some are potentially addictive, others are not.For instance, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are often used to relieve pain and inflammation. As they are not narcotic analgesics, NSAIDs are not addictive.Muscle relaxants may be used to relieve pain due to tight muscles – they’re not addictive, either.

Myth #7: Pain is part of growing old.

Yes, those in their sixties are bound to suffer from degenerative bone and joint disease compared to their younger counterparts. However, there is no need to shrug off these conditions, especially because age doesn’t make people any more insensitive to pain.

You don’t always have to experience pain to reap rewards. For instance, pain may occur after lifting weights. However, excessive use of weights may lead to pain that lasts several days, keeping you from sticking to your regular workout schedule.Pain is a friend who warns us that something is wrong. Learning to listen to your body includes learning to acknowledge pain.

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