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Myths & Facts about Chronic Pain

1. Weather Can Affect Pain

FACT. If your joint pain gets worse when it's cold or raining, it may not be your imagination. Although studies have shown mixed results, changes in air pressure can cause some people -- especially those with arthritis -- to have more pain in their joints.

2. Lots of Rest Is Good For Back Pain

MYTH. Although your doctor may prescribe short rest, it's best to remain active. Experts say that complete bed rest is one of the worst things you can do for back pain -- or any other type of long-term (chronic) pain. If you're not active, your body quickly gets out of condition, so you have even more pain when you eventually move. Limit exercise when pain is intense, but do your normal activities as much as you can.

3. Losing Weight Can Ease Pain

FACT. If you're overweight, losing some of it means less pressure on your joints and back. Even 10 pounds can make a difference. Your doctor can let you know what’s a good goal weight to work toward and suggest the best, safest ways for you to do it.

4. You Can Overlook Minor Pain

MYTH. Many people believe that pain is something they have to live with, but you should never ignore it. Even if the ache gets better when you take over-the-counter pain medications, see your doctor if it's severe, lasts more than a week or two, gets worse over time, or makes it hard to do your daily activities.

5. Your Attitude Can Affect Pain

FACT. You don’t want to ignore your pain. But as hard as it may be, try not to dwell on it, because it can make you feel worse. Instead, keep looking for solutions. Ask your doctor what else you can try -- physical therapy, maybe? If the hurting gets you down -- you feel depressed, mad, or worried about it -- consider talking with a counselor. They will listen and help.

6. No Pain, No Gain

MYTH. Although it's OK to push yourself when you work out, it's important to know when to stop. Pain is your body's way of telling you that something is wrong. You should never feel pain when exercising. If you do, stop and take a break. To stay safe, learn what your limits are and stay within them.

7. Pain Is Part of Aging

MYTH. Chronic pain is not like gray hair and wrinkles. You might not feel like you used to when you were young. But if you're in pain every day, talk with your doctor to help you find relief. At any age, you shouldn’t settle for feeling bad.

8. Pain Killers Lead to Addiction

MYTH. When you take them as directed, prescription pain medications rarely cause addiction. Don’t use more than what’s prescribed, and don’t take them more often than what’s recommended. If you aren’t getting the pain relief you need, talk it over with your doctor. Don’t change the dosing on your own, and never use someone else’s prescription.

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