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Myths About Chronic Pain Management

Many individuals with cancer who have chronic pain have heard "rumors" or "myths" about pain medications and pain management. It is helpful to have the correct information about these myths.

MYTH 1: A person should wait as long as possible before she/he asks the provider for a pain medication or intervention.

FALSE: Pain is harder to treat when it becomes severe. So it is important to get on top of the pain early, when it first begins. Ask your health provider early about pain medications. And once you have medications for pain take them regularly before the pain becomes severe. Or it may be that the health care provider will recommend another type of pain intervention (like an injection or therapy) rather than medication.

MYTH 2: Any person who takes pain medication will get addicted.

FALSE: Many medical studies show that patients rarely become addicted to pain medications. Addiction is a psychological dependence. However, individuals may become physically dependent which means their body needs the medication to control the pain. If you take pain medication do NOT stop it until you are told to do so by your health care professional. And if you do stop it slowly decrease it rather stopping all at once.

MYTH 3: If you take too much medication, it will stop working.

FALSE: Patients taking pain medication for chronic pain may have to take larger doses of take it or take it more often. This typically is necessary when the pain increases. Or it may mean that your body has built up a tolerance for the medication. Increasing the amount of medication to relieve pain does not mean that you are addicted.

Several good resources for pain information are listed below:
American Pain Foundation

Partners Against Pain

American Chronic Pain Association
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