Why it's difficult to talk about our chronic pain with others, even our own doctors
Pain is, by nature, a subjective experience. We know that, even with the same diagnosis, any two patients can experience their symptoms in very different ways. Even in the same patient experience, perceptions about pain level, severity and quality of life can vary from body to body.
This subjective nature sometimes involves significant effects that external factors may have on our pain levels – diet, exercise or mobility, mental stress, difficult relationships, quality of sleep / quantity – and it's no wonder we Have trouble expressing your pain.
But communication requires two steps – talking and listening / interpreting. The harder it is for you to explain your pain to another person, the more difficult it is for the other person to interpret what you say. Even using this tired old trope, on a 1 to 10 inconvenience scale (which, for many reasons, should be completely eliminated), doesn't help much.
For example, you and I can both say we feel the pain of our fibromyalgia at level 8, but who's to say that your "8" is, or is, my "8"? We do not know. The only thing I can take away from your statement is "Is my pain at level 8? Is that, for you, at this point in time, two steps away from your complete and utter discomfort, and from the feeling? It's about eight steps away – no problem – whatever that means for you.
Doctors should be different
None of this is to say that your medical professionals should take a moment to take your pain seriously. Doctors can and should be different. With their years of medical training and the experience of both severe and chronic pain, our clinicians must control the highest standards of communication and empathy.
Still, often, we hear stories about doctors – even those who have treated patients for years before the onset of chronic pain – reports on patients' chronic pain in your head. I reject all "or" being "stressful". "Or worse – it is no secret in the fibromyalgia community, for example, that many MDs and nurses think that any fibroids who ask about a drug are looking for drugs.
You don't have to walk a mile away in fibromite shoes to know that. Watch an episode of any medical drama on television where mysterious pain reports play an important role in a weekly diagnosed patient. See how they roll their eyes, or reject the reports completely if the MRI is "clear." It is deeply blind and it is insidious.
Physical therapists fear legal advice for prescribing pain medication
Again, prescribing medications for chronic pain to doctors is a completely unreasonable concern. It is common for doctors to lose their licenses or even face criminal prosecution for prescription methods. Some of these lawsuits are undoubtedly guaranteed. But whether they are or not, they are closer. The effects of other therapies on the whole idea of combating pain are essentially cooling effects.
If the fight against drugs is pushing doctors to treat chronic pain right, then the only reason is that they will be less accepting of the pain news seriously. Some MD's attitude seems to be, "If I can't cure it, then this is not the truth." Sure, this is nonsense, but even so, a personal fear can and will affect a person's willingness to enter into an open discussion about the subject. We do not want to face what we cannot control. This is probably even more true for therapists who are trained and willing to take on the God-given control of their patients' physical processes.
Our rights as patients
But regardless of "whispers" – as a patient, we have the right to take our pain seriously, and treat it with respect. If this is not happening despite our best efforts for compromise and rational debate, it may be time to find a doctor who is better prepared to handle our case.