Understanding Chronic Pain: A Journey Through Unseen Struggles

In Pelvic Health, Pelvic Pain by Emily TranLeave a Comment

By PHRC Admin

In a world where we’re accustomed to physical discomfort being temporary, it’s hard to imagine what living with chronic pain feels like. It’s not just an ongoing ache or discomfort. It’s a complex, multifaceted experience that can seep into every aspect of life, making even the simplest tasks daunting. Explaining chronic pain to someone who hasn’t experienced it can be challenging, but analogies and clear, descriptive language can help. 

Chronic pain is like an uninvited guest that overstays its welcome, persistently lingering no matter how much you wish it away. Unlike acute pain, which acts as our body’s alarm system alerting us to an injury or illness, chronic pain is akin to a broken alarm that continues to blare long after the threat has passed.

Our patients often tell us one of the main struggles is that they look totally ‘normal’ and ‘healthy’, yet they may not be able to sit, exercise, have sex or even wear underwear. We understand they may feel like they are distracted by constant urges to urinate or they are afraid to have a bowel movement. We know all too well explaining pelvic pain and dysfunction adds an extra layer of stress and embarrassment. We strive to educate suffering patients and their families to help reduce embarrassment and help people advocate for themselves for proper diagnosis and treatment. This blog includes general suggestions for talking about pain and direction towards resources specific to various pelvic pain pain diagnoses that can be shared or used for discussion points in your conversations. We hope this makes the journey less difficult. If you are struggling and need our help in person in one of our 11 PHRC locations or via digital health we are here for you! 

 

General Information: Discussing Pain

 

Our clients often paint a vivid picture of their experiences. They describe it as if they are living in a body that’s perpetually on high alert, constantly bracing for the next wave of discomfort. The invisible nature of their pain can lead to feelings of isolation, as others may not fully comprehend the depth of their struggle.

Other analogies to share when trying to describe chronic pain to someone who’s never experienced it:

  1. The Broken Alarm Clock: Imagine a faulty alarm clock that goes off at random times throughout the day and night. No matter how many times you try to switch it off, it persists in ringing. Chronic pain is like this broken alarm clock, relentlessly sounding off, disrupting your life at unpredictable intervals.
  2. The Persistent Echo: Consider the echo in a mountain range. You shout once, and the sound reverberates again and again, long after you’ve stopped making any noise. Chronic pain is like an echo, a response to an old injury or illness that keeps resonating in your body.
  3. The Static on the Radio: Think about trying to listen to your favorite song on the radio, but there’s a persistent static noise overlaying the music. No matter how you adjust the frequency, the static never completely disappears. That’s chronic pain – a constant interference, a noise that overlays everything you do and experience.
  4. The Overcast Sky: Picture a day with an overcast sky, where the sun is continuously hidden behind the clouds. The gloominess persists, casting a shadow over everything beneath it. Chronic pain can feel like this – a persistent cloud cover that dims the brightness of life.
  5. The Heavy Backpack: Imagine carrying a heavy backpack all day, every day. It weighs you down, makes every task more difficult, and you never get to set it down. That’s what chronic pain can often feel like – a constant, burdensome weight that you can’t get rid of.

 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, around 20% of U.S. adults live with chronic pain, highlighting the critical need for understanding and addressing this widespread issue1.

At our clinic, we’re committed to shedding light on this often misunderstood condition. We strive to help individuals navigate their journey with chronic pain through education, support, and effective management strategies. Our goal is to empower our patients to live a life free from the constraints of chronic pain.

Remember, chronic pain is a journey, but it’s one that no one should have to walk alone. With professional guidance, a supportive community, and personal resilience, it’s possible to reclaim control over your life.

 

Pelvic Pain Resource Guides by PHRC

Vulvodynia, Vestibulodynia, Vaginismus

Pudendal Neuralgia

Chronic Pelvic Pain Syndrome/Chronic Prostatitis

Interstitial Cystitis/Painful Bladder Syndrome

Endometriosis 

 

Sources

  1. CDC: 20% of Adults Experience Chronic Pain

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We are excited to announce our physical therapist, Molly, is now located in our 11th location in Columbus, OH. Now scheduling new patients- call (510) 922-9836 to book! 

Are you unable to come see us in person in the Bay Area, Southern California or New England?  We offer virtual physical therapy appointments too!

Virtual sessions are available with PHRC pelvic floor physical therapists via our video platform, Zoom, or via phone. For more information and to schedule, please visit our digital healthcare page.

Melissa Patrick is a certified yoga instructor and meditation teacher and is also available virtually to help, for more information please visit our therapeutic yoga page

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