It’s common for me to see a new patient who is in some kind of pain – maybe it’s their knee, or shoulder, or something else. It’s been hurting the last couple weeks or months and they need to get it fixed. However, when I ask about any other type of pain, they say something like, “My lower back hurts too, but it’s been like that for 15 years so I just live with it. That’s just normal for me so I’ve learned to deal with it .”
When I hear this, I literally want to shake them! I don’t. However, I do explain that pain is not normal no matter how long it’s been or what you have tried or not tried to fix it. Only in a very few circumstances is pain something that can’t be avoided without drugs or surgery.
Here’s the thing, pain is like a warning light in your car, or a signal telling you that something is wrong. If you are experiencing pain, it means that something in your body is not working right or is being damaged. Your body is telling you that the machine is not functioning properly and needs to be tuned-up. Would you let the warning light in your car remain on for over 10 years?
You should not ignore it and you definitely shouldn’t mask it with painkillers.
Pain – especially chronic pain – can damage your body in many different ways. Not only is the area that is experiencing pain damaged and continuing to be damaged, but it also affects other parts of your body.
For example, if you have lower back pain, you might unknowingly alter the way you walk, sit, or stand to try to accommodate for your pain. This might work in the short term, but your altered walking/sitting/standing can easily create dysfunction in other areas, such as the hips and knees. If you let this continue and ignore or mask the pain, you not only are going to have lower back pain, but your knees and hips are going to degenerate much faster than normal. The “normal” pain you experience over a long period of time can actually cause many more problems, often necessitating long, expensive and invasive treatments to fix or cure once the pain becomes unbearable.
However, if you take care of it when you first notice it, you can avoid all of this, and live a much healthier, pain-free life. Too often people wait until pain is severe or in multiple locations. This drastically complicates treatment, recovery times, and the ability to create a lasting, complete resolution to the problem.
It’s also important to note that masking the pain with painkillers doesn’t actually make things better. If you are experiencing everyday pain – like your back hurts every morning or every time you sit down at work – just because you can take some painkillers and make it go away doesn’t mean it’s fixed.
Additionally, painkillers (over-the-counter and prescription alike), are not good to take on a regular basis. Taking drugs to lessen the pain introduces toxins into your body that you have to process. Doing this for years on end can have a major affect on your body. It also doesn’t allow your warning lights (pain signals) to work appropriately and let you know when further damage is being done.
In fact, the FDA announced last year that Acetaminophen, a common painkiller used in Tylenol and many other over-the-counter medicines, can cause severe liver damage and failure with even a small amount of the drug.
Needless to say, taking a painkiller every day can be very damaging to your body in many ways.
Overall, it’s important to be in touch with your body. If your body is telling you something – especially in the form of pain – listen to it and do something about it. Pain is a signal that allows us to know when something is going wrong and helps us avoid things that are dangerous.
If you are experiencing chronic pain, we can help. We offer a free consultation to first-time clients and can help you understand how we can help and what options you have. Just give us a call at 949-916-9742.