If you suffer from chronic pain, you’re certainly not alone — even though it might sometimes might feel that way.
Chronic or ongoing pain affects about 20% of the Australian population.
But did you know, it actually helps to talk about your pain?
Simon Holliday is a GP in New South Wales who’s focused a great amount of his professional life helping people manage their pain. He says the benefits of sharing your pain are backed by science.
‘Communication is really important with pain,’ he says.
‘Brain science shows that when we talk to people about pain, we feel better’ — Dr Simon Holliday
‘We actually can increase our pain threshold when we’re in contact with other people.
‘So suffering in silence is not a good idea at all.
Pain management and the Australian Government’s recent campaign to minimise the long-term use of prescription opiate medications have been discussed on recent episodes of the Australian Men’s Shed Association’s podcast, The Shed Wireless.
Prescription opiates (or opioid medications) include codeine, fentanyl and oxycontin, among others — and yes, these are part of the same group of drugs as heroin and opium.
In episode 4 (season 3) of Ask the Doc, Dr Holliday explains how suffering more socially, in other words telling others about your pain, will reduce your suffering.
‘Suffering is part of all of our lives and if we can learn to deal with our life in a better way, with less suffering, we can have a happier and healthier life.’
‘Opiates are fantastic medications when people are dying, thank God we’ve got them (for end of life care),’ he says.
‘But I think we’ve got to recognise that we don’t have science to say they opiates are effective or safe in long term pain.’
In fact, using opioid pain medications for anything longer than a short term prescription is likely to do much more harm than good — without bringing the desired pain relief.
‘Pain’s a terrible thing to have on a long-term basis,’ says Professor Rob McLachlan who is the Medical Director at Healthy Male (formerly Andrology Australia) and a regular expert guest on The Shed Wireless segment ‘Ask the Doc’.
‘If you’re battling with chronic pain, it’s going to run your batteries down’ — Professor Rob McLachlan
‘You’re going to sleep more poorly, you’re not going to be energetic…you’re not going to enjoy your life, or your family and friends,’ says Rob.
‘And relationships can suffer.
‘You become…a bit grumpier or just a bit flat and non-engaging.
‘You might think you’re putting up with it in silence but in fact people know that it’s not you, there’s something wrong.’