National Pain Awareness Month
How strange it may seem to have a month dedicated to pain awareness. Yet for those who have Repetitive Strain Injuries, you may recall how many times you feel pain and ignore it, saying to yourself…’this will go away’. Finally, it becomes so constant or so intense that you decide you have to tell the doctor. Depending on the doctor, you may either get a preliminary diagnosis, referral to a specialist, or your pain may be belittled.
Pain is the body’s way of letting us know that something is wrong - yet we tend to ignore it. “No pain, No gain!” “Work through the pain.” Etc. In many cases, the pain these comments refer to is short lived. Two days later, the body is back to normal having had time to recover from the micro-injuries that caused the pain. Often, the body benefits from an increase in physical stress and is none the worse for the experience.
Our society tends to ignore pain unless there is a visible injury. Perhaps this is one reason the Occupational Safety and Health Administration considers RSI a disease rather than an injury. There is almost never a single incident of causation and almost never anything that can really be seen.
People who can’t see the injury often cannot accept that anything is really wrong. Even if they accept on one level that you are in pain, they may find it difficult to grasp the idea that the pain can be incapacitating with no sign showing on the surface. Without meaning to be uncaring, it is truly difficult for them to understand. Meanwhile, constant pain takes its toll – on the body, on emotions, on sleep.
Sleep deprivation can be pain induced. Frequent waking up at night is not uncommon. Lack of enough REM sleep has also been noted, even among those who are able to sleep all night.
Wikipedia reports 2 studies of sleep-deprived (REM deprived) rats. These results were contradictory, but there was a strong indication in one that lack of deep sleep reduced the rat’s ability to heal. ( Gümüºtekín K, Seven B, Karabulut N, et al. (November 2004). "Effects of sleep deprivation, nicotine, and selenium on wound healing in rats". Int. J. Neurosci. 114 (11): 1433–42. doi:10.1080/00207450490509168. PMID 15636354.)
So we have sleep deprivation caused by pain resulting in a possible slowing of the healling response.
Over the past 5 years, RSIs in the private sector that were reported to OSHA have consistently declined. Due to changes in total employment numbers, the percentage of RSI cases compared to all work-related injuries has remained about the same. The longer the person has been with a particular employer, the more likely they are to show an RSI injury. Of the 1,078,140 cases reported, only 10,080 were carpal tunnel syndrome.
Recurrent or constant pain interferes with life. If makes it difficult to comb your hair, to fasten buttons, to walk across the room (yes, RSI occurs in legs and feet as well), to drive and/or to do the tasks involved in work and caring for a family. I think that it is an important enough issue to have a National Month of awareness. September is National Pain Awareness Month.
For information on Pain Management or to obtain help with your pain, you may visit the sites below.
PS: If you have constant pain or pain that is recurrent and sharp or strong enough to interfere with your daily life, it’s time to make an appointment with your medical practitioner. Pain like that is a warning sign and should not be ignored.