Can I Just Ignore My Pain?

woman in white tank top and blue denim shorts sitting on bed

Lots of patients as us this question, like

  1. Can I just live with my pain in my back or neck or shoulder?
  2. Can’t I just take painkillers as the pain isn’t very bad?

Let’s look at these questions and answer them:

Can I just live with my pain in my back or neck or shoulder?

In a nutshell, there are a simple 2 rules:

If the pain goes away after about 7-10 days

and don’t come back, it’s fine to ignore it – sometimes micro (really mild) injuries do happen, and these will generally disappear after the acute phase of injury.

If the pain persists after 10 days…consistently

Here is the zone where things can get a little more iffy.

As physiotherapists and hand therapists, we will need to ask to understand if there is a is a trend of if

  • the pain comes back regularly
  • the pain has been steadily increasing in frequency and intensity
  • the pain is disrupting function and movement

If the pain is coming back regularly, increasing in frequency and intensity over time, and especially if it’s disrupting movement eg

  1. can’t walk properly
  2. can’t stand for long
  3. lose balance consistently and falling
  4. can’t sit to stand properly
  5. can’t wear clothing piece properly
  6. etc etc

Then it’s an issue already that needs to be assessed and diagnosed by a physiotherapist or hand therapist to understand what’s the core issue or injury or condition, and get it sorted.

Like anything in life, when we diagnose and treat problems early, it’s so much easier than when allowing problems to fester and worsen.

We’re also very aware that unfortunately often life gets in the way, we can get very busy with life events, work, responsibilities that we don’t find the time to take care of ourselves, and we get patients coming to us when the pain and problem gets out of hand.

A simple trigger finger can be easily treated when it’s at early stage 1 with just hand therapy of 4-12 weeks versus a full locked version at stage 4 which typically requires surgery and hand therapy of 6-24 weeks depending on healing rate.

It’s always easier to nip things in the bud.

Secondly, prolong painkillers isn’t a good idea.

assorted medication tables and capsules

Painkillers overall are great to use on a short term basis, especially when the pain and injury is very acute ie very intense in the beginning…

…however it may not be a good idea to take painkillers and pain medication for the mid to long term due to the toll that it’d take on one’s body.

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