VHA Pain Management
VA RESEARCH FOR VETERANS - Pain Information and Myths
Myth 1: Pain is a natural side effect of aging
Older adults may be more likely to report pain, but this does not mean that chronic pain is the same as normal wear and tear of joints and muscles. Pain is not about one age group and chronic pain can occur at any age.
Myth 2: I can’t do anything about my pain
While there is no “magic pill” that eliminates pain, that does not mean you should continue to live with all the negative consequences of pain. There are multiple treatments including many non-medication treatments for chronic pain. It is unlikely that one treatment will cure chronic pain; more often a combination of approaches will help to provide relief. Working with your clinical team is the first step to managing chronic pain.
Myth 3: Exercise and movement will result in more injury and pain
Exercise, such as walking or physical therapy, is a critical part of improving your pain. Light to moderate exercise can help reduce stiffness and build muscle strength. Beyond improving pain, exercise has established benefits for your mental and physical health. Speak with your doctor before starting an exercise routine and remember that a consistent amount of light to moderate activity is better than one strenuous workout.
Myth 4: Pain is all in your head.
Pain is real and can negatively impact multiple areas of your life. Furthermore, pain can occur even when medical tests or imaging (like x-rays or scans) are within a normal range. However, what you do, managing stress, your thoughts and think can affect how you perceive your pain. Dwelling in pain may increase your focus on pain and can amplify the negative consequences of pain. Most treatment is focused on helping to manage, but not cure, chronic pain.
Myth 5: Chronic pain can only be fixed with surgical intervention
Surgeries are rarely effective at treating chronic pain. Experiencing pain doesn’t necessarily mean that there is an identifiable injury that can be remedied with surgery (e.g., a broken arm on an x-ray). Even after surgery, pain can still persist and significantly interfere with your life. Being open to a range of non-surgical solutions to help manage chronic pain may lead to better pain outcomes.
Research for Veterans - Resource Topics of Interest
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