By Sammy Shahatto, RPh, PharmD

Pain is your brain’s way of telling you there is a threat to your body. But pain that continues beyond three months is chronic and can be life-altering. Here are three things you may not know about chronic pain.

  1. Chronic pain is a disease.

In January of this year, the World Health Organization classified chronic pain as a disease. That announcement will help countries see chronic pain as a diagnosis, not a side effect and will help provide traction for management programs like our 2021 Action Plan for Pain in Canada.

  1. Your brain doesn’t receive pain signals; it creates them.

Researchers once believed that nerves send a pain signal to your brain when they detect an unpleasant sensation. We now understand that nerves transmit a ‘damage report,’ but your brain decides if this new information warrants a pain response. It bases that decision on biological, psychological, spiritual, social, and emotional factors. And because we have all lived through different experiences, we all feel pain differently.

  1. The bi-product can be worse than the pain.

Constant pain can wear you down, leaving you with anxiety, depression, and even suicidal thoughts. As pain is invisible, others may not understand and undermine your condition, leaving you isolated. Many chronic pain sufferers need to exit the workforce before experiencing their highest earning potential. Those reduced earnings often lead to financial insecurity and even more isolation.

Pain treatment plans may include:

  • NSAIDs (Advil, Aleve, Aspirin)
  • Opioids (codeine, hydrocodone)
  • Acetaminophen (Tylenol)
  • Cannabinoids

For more information about your medications or treatment plan, contact your physician.