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19 Ridiculous Things People Have Said About Chronic Pain

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If you have a chronic pain condition, you’ve likely heard some comments about your pain that make you think, “Seriously?!” Even though our doctors and loved ones generally have good intentions, sometimes a lack of understanding causes their questions or advice to completely miss the mark. It can be frustrating and hurtful when someone doesn’t really listen or try to understand – and this can unfortunately result in uninformed and insensitive commentary. Sometimes though, the things people say are just so ridiculous (and so far from the truth) that they almost verge on comical.

We asked our Mighty community to share some of the ridiculous things they’ve heard people say about chronic pain in the hopes of correcting common misconceptions and raising awareness about the realities of pain conditions… while maybe having a small chuckle at just how silly and off-the-mark some of these statements are.

Here’s what our community shared with us:

1. “But you look fine!”

“‘You can’t be in pain or discomfort, you managed to dress nicely and did your hair.’ True, my hubby and full-time carer helped me to shower, dress and did my hair for me. It’s important to me to look my best even on my worst days.” – Jill C.

2. “You’re lucky you get to stay at home.”

That I’m lucky to be a stay-at-home dog mom. Although I love my dog I’d much rather work and be around people.” – Christina G.

3. “If you would just try ____ you’d feel better in no time!”

“‘If you would just ____ you’d feel better.’ So many experts out there who have never experienced chronic pain. Feel free to fill in the blank… exercise, be more active, go to bed earlier…” – Peggy F.

“‘If you’d just change your diet you wouldn’t have these problems. Gut health is the root to all your problems! Cutting out sugar made me feel so much better! You should try that. Homeopathy would be so much better and less harmful than all those chemicals you put in your body!’” – Cynthia K.

“‘Have you tried meditation? I heard you can meditate the pain away.’” – Jamie G.

“‘Have you tried yoga?’” – Ashley I.

4. “You’re just doing this for attention.”

“‘You are doing this to get attention.’ Yup, I am just seeking a bunch of attention because I like getting ugly looks when I use my [disabled] parking [placard] because of how young I am.” – Tiffany G.

5. “It can’t be that bad…”

“‘How can a headache be that bad?!’ I wish they understood migraines aren’t normal headaches. And chronic migraines every day for 12 years are even different from an occasional migraine. Sure, a one-day headache might not be that bad. You take some Advil or worst case something prescription strength and you have relief. But, compound that unrelenting pain for 4,380 days and what seems like ‘just a headache’ to someone who only experiences them occasionally is completely debilitating.” – Caitlin M.

“‘You’re not in the hospital, so it can’t be that bad.’ That stung deep as it was said by the person I’m closest with. That, paired with a few other comments, is when I stopped being open about my symptoms and struggles, and started hiding my pain as best I could.” – Holly D.

6. “You’re too young to be in pain.”

“‘You’re way too young to have so much pain.’ It was ridiculous because pain has no certain age. I wish they knew that just because I’m young doesn’t mean my pain isn’t valid.” – Destiny P.

“‘You’re way too young to be in that much pain, stop trying to get attention.’ I’ve had chronic pain my entire life and due to damage in my neck and spine from the day I was born I’ve never known a day pain-free. I’ve been hearing those exact words since I was 5 years old when I was old enough to understand pain and old enough to verbalize it properly. Just because you’re young doesn’t mean you can’t be [in] excruciating pain all the time.” – Sammi H.

“‘You’re too young to have chronic pain. Wait ’til you get to my age.’” – Kate B.

7. “Opiates don’t work for chronic pain.”

“‘Opiates don’t work for chronic pain and will cause addiction!’ I have tried literally all of the non-narcotic painkillers and none of them worked. The NSAIDs and COX-2 inhibitors destroyed my GI tract. Antidepressants didn’t have any effect at all. Tylenol was at a dangerously high dose. There aren’t any other options.” – Lisbeth A.

8. “I understand, I broke my leg once.”

Submitted by Sara L.

9. “Have you tried Tylenol?”

I’ve been sick and in pain for a decade… a neurologist recently asked me, ‘Have you tried taking Tylenol for your pain?’ Wtf?” – Jessica Y. D.

10. “You look like you’re hurting.”

One thing I hear a lot is ‘you look like you’re hurting really bad.’ Yes, I am. But, I am trying. I’m still working, still pushing through and trying to ignore the pain. You telling me how bad I look just reminds me of the intensity of the pain.” – Janell W.

11. “We have insurance – just get it fixed.”

“‘We have insurance, just get it fixed.’ I have tried many, many options (prayer, acupuncture, chiropractor, massage therapy, trigger point injections, patches, TENS unit, medication, topical ointment, ‘back buddy,’ essential oils and different type of gadgets that promise to get rid of back pain). I’m doing my part in ‘getting it fixed.’ If it was up to me, the pain would be gone!” – FernandoVeronica M.

12. “You just need to stop taking pain meds.”

My new GP thinking he understands my issues in just two appointments, which come to approximately 20 minutes. Apparently I need to come off the morphine but take nothing else for breakthrough pain.” – Anthony B.

“‘I think you would feel so much better if you got off all those meds they have you on.’ As bad as you think my pain is now. I promise you do not want to see me with no meds and especially no pain meds, because it is not pretty!” – Kelley N.E.

13. “Everyone has aches and pains when they get older.”

“‘Everyone has aches and pains when they get older.’ I’m 45, not 80! It’s not the same thing at all.” – Joanne S.

14. “You just need to pray more.”

I have chronic pain because I ‘didn’t repent and accept Jesus Christ as my savior.’” – Michelle M.

Oh yes, the ‘just pray to God and He will heal you.’ I’m not knocking God, but really?!” – Cynthia K.

15. “You could have it worse.”

“‘You could have it worse. Be thankful.’ I never said I wasn’t thankful I can walk… I just wish every step wasn’t excruciating pain.” – Jessi S.

“‘So many people have it worse than you.’ Yes, that’s absolutely true, but way to make me feel like my pain doesn’t matter.” – Kristin B.

16. “I get that you’re in pain, but so are most people.”

“‘I get that you’re in pain, but so are most people.’ Yes, most people do have pain, in one area. I have pain in literally every inch of my body. There’s more than a little difference between the two. I won’t just suck it up, because I physically can’t.” – Ellee R.

17. “You know this is a disabled parking space…”

“Coming up to me in a disability parking space with my placard and asking, ‘You know this is a disabled space?” …yep… ‘Are you disabled? …yep… ‘That’s your placard?!’ …yep, celebrating the anniversary of my brain surgery actually… ‘Oh, sorry it’s just usually young people don’t know or care that they park here!’ …uh huh…” – Audrey O.C.

18. “Just think positive!”

That you can positive-think-it away or pray it away.” – Candice R.

19. “How long until you’re better?”

“‘Oh wow, so how long until you get better?’ I have CRPS, I won’t be getting better.” – Rebecca M.

Originally published: March 22, 2018
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