“Why do you guys always want to know how much stress I have?” While the patient who asked this question the other day had fibromyalgia, she could have had chronic low back or neck pain, chronic daily headaches, complex regional pain syndrome, or any other chronic pain condition. She was expressing a sentiment that I often hear in one form or another.

It goes something like the following: “I’m here to talk about my pain and what we can do about it, but you ask me about all these things that are unrelated to pain, like whether I worry, whether the worry keeps me up at night, what’s going on at home, whether my spouse believes me that I hurt as much as I do. In effect, I’m here to talk about my pain but you want to know how... Read more

What is fatigue?

Fatigue is an often misused and overused term for “tired”. But fatigue and passing or short-term tiredness, laziness or even drowsiness are different.

In the context of work fatigue, which is what we are focusing on in talking about fatigue management strategies, fatigue is:

Mental and/or physical exhaustion which reduces a persons ability to perform work safely and effectively. In a nutshell, fatigue stops a person from functioning and performing normally.

Fatigue is like driving tired; it’s an extreme and very real danger which results in major incidents and accidents, but it is often swept under the rug or ignored because its impacts aren’t obviously dangerous or highly visible.

... Read more

September 09, 2013

There’s a divide between chronic pain experts and their patients that rarely gets crossed. The divide centers on the issue of fear-avoidance of pain.

On one side of the divide, among chronic pain experts, fear-avoidance is one of the most well established facts about chronic pain and chronic pain related disability. Over more than a decade, researchers and clinicians have extensively studied fear-avoidance and almost every month another study on it gets published in the professional journals. As such, it’s a well established fact among chronic pain experts. On the other side of the divide, it’s rare to find a chronic pain patient who has ever heard of it.

It’s a strange state of affairs that... Read more

Asking a question like, “What is pain?” might seem silly. Surely everyone knows what pain is, do they not? You accidentally brush your hand on a hot stove or bang your elbow on a table and suddenly it hurts. Pain is a common part of everyday life and it helps us to learn to avoid situations that might cause us harm. Once you know that touching a hot stove is painful, your try to avoid doing it again.

Pain is also a big part of our earliest life experiences. Toddlers fall down and bump into things as they learn to walk and babies cry at the sudden pain of a routine injection. In recent study, researchers observed children aged 1-2 years in a play centre and reported at least one painful event (such as a fall or a bump) per... Read more

August 14, 2020 / U.S. Pain Foundation By: Ellen Lenox Smith

During this pandemic, many of you are experiencing what those of us have had to learn to live with a chronic condition. You are wearing masks, washing hands frequently, isolated from many, avoiding stores, crowds and learning to live an altered life until this pandemic lifts. And when that happens, you will get to go back to a version of the life you knew. And I and others in circumstances like me will get to return to the help we need to live a better quality of life that has been put on hold.

For people like me, this pandemic has caused the cancellation of the much needed but defined as non-essential medical help, I am used to turning to. For example, I was... Read more

March 16, 2020 / U. S. Pain Foundation By Emily Lemiska

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, I could be at higher risk of contracting serious illness from COVID-19. I live with rare neck and spinal cord defects, known as Klippel-Feil syndrome, which cause serious, debilitating pain. The condition affects my posture, which translates into reduced lung capacity. I also have the immune system of a flea; a cold that my husband recovers from in one week takes me about six weeks. My increased risk is minor compared to others, but it’s still scary. But I’ve come to realize that, in many ways, living with chronic health issues for nearly a decade has prepared me for a worldwide pandemic. 1. DON’T THREATEN ME... Read more

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