You sure know about pain when you feel it. But fully understanding pain is another matter. Here are the facts behind some myths.

Myth (1) – Medications target the location

Ignore what you read on some packages. Painkillers aren’t made specifically for back pain, headache or period pain. All painkillers work throughout the body. Your specific ache is reduced because painkillers are able to attack pain wherever they find it.

Myth (2) – Many over-the-counter painkillers are available

In fact there are four types: 1) non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen
2) aspirin 3) paracetamol 4) opioids such as codeine.

Where inflammation is present, such as period pain and arthritis, NSAIDs may be better. However, pregnant women and people with stomach problems, high blood pressure, heart failure and asthma may be advised to avoid them. Aspirin may need to be avoided if you have stomach or blood clotting problems. In this situation, paracetamol can be safer or codeine may be recommended for more severe pain.

Myth (3) – Chronic pain is just long-lasting pain

Acute pain lasts for a short time following injury, disease or surgery. It usually acts as a clear warning to ‘Stop what you’re doing!’ so as to allow healing to occur. It becomes chronic when the pain lasts longer than expected for normal healing. At this stage the nerves in the body, spinal cord and brain can also change in ways that makes chronic pain a new, additional medical condition.

Myth (4) – Pain is ‘in your head’

Sometimes doctors don’t find an injury or disease that’s causing your chronic pain. But this doesn’t mean the pain is ‘in your head’ or ‘you’re crazy’. Chronic pain can be your diagnosis. Fortunately, it can be effectively treated, even when an injury or disease hasn’t been found.

More information: See your GP, visit www.painaustralia.org.au

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