Category Archives: Safety

How to Talk About Pain

How to Talk About Pain – Courtesy of

Credit Paul GarciaLONDON — IN 1926, Virginia Woolf published an essay on pain, “On Being Ill.” Isn’t it extraordinary, she observed, that pain does not rank with “love, battle and jealousy” among the most important themes in literature. She lamented the “poverty of the language of pain.” Every schoolgirl who falls in love “has Shakespeare, Donne, Keats to speak her mind for her; but let a sufferer try to describe a pain in his head to a doctor and language at once runs dry.”

Where are the novels or epic poems devoted to typhoid, pneumonia or toothaches, Woolf wondered? Instead, the person in pain is forced to “coin words himself, and, taking his pain in one hand, and a lump of pure sound in the other (as perhaps the inhabitants of Babel did in the beginning), so to crush them together that a brand new word in the end drops out.”

The difficulty in talking about painful sensations forces people to draw on metaphors, analogies and metonymies when attempting to communicate their suffering to others. Woolf — writing nearly a century after the popularization of ether, the first anesthetic — was perhaps too pessimistic about the creativity of sufferers. Take lower back pain, the single leading cause of disability worldwide. In the 1950s, one sufferer of back pain said that it felt like “a raging toothache — sometimes like something is moving or crawling down my legs.” Half a century later, one person confessed that “my back hurt so bad I felt like I had a large grapefruit down about the curve of the back.”

Woolf would not have been impressed perhaps by claims that backs hurt like a toothache or a grapefruit, but she was right to recognize that people in pain seek both to describe their suffering and to give meaning to it.

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PTSD and Chronic Pain – More Similarities?

The more that I research, the more that I find that there might actually be strong correlations between chronic pain and PTSD. This of course makes sense if your chronic pain is caused by the same thing at the root of your PTSD. This is exactly what the article below looks at. I am a strong believer in the correlation and that one condition can be overlooked because of the other. However, I wonder what if the two were mutually exclusive? For example, I have a history that caused my PTSD but might not be directly linked to my current chronic pain. Does the article below still apply? I leave that to you to decide (or until I find the research!)!

PTSD and Chronic Pain

By: Cynthia Townsend, PhD

Relationship Between Chronic Pain and PTSD

While chronic pain and PTSD are conditions that may occur together, their relationship to one another is not always obvious and is often overlooked. PTSD can be overlooked because the health care provider, the patient and the family may be focusing on the pain disorder. At times, the patient’s level of disability may be attributed solely to pain. Because there is such a close relationship between PTSD and chronic pain, they have been referred to as “mutually maintaining” conditions.9,10 This is because the presence of both PTSD and chronic pain can increase the symptom severity of either condition.11 

For example, people with chronic pain may avoid activity because they fear the pain – avoiding activity can lead to physical de-conditioning and greater disability and pain over time. Similarly, people with PTSD may avoid reminders of the trauma. This avoidance of activity can lead to the continuation of PTSD symptoms while also contributing to greater physical disability. People with chronic pain may also focus their attention toward their pain while individuals with PTSD may unknowingly focus on things that remind them of the trauma. Consequently, people with both PTSD and chronic pain may have less time and energy to focus on more adaptive ways of coping with both their pain and fear. Furthermore, people with PTSD often experience symptoms of arousal and tension, which may decrease their tolerance for handling pain and increase their perception of pain.



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Want to see the silver lining? Wear polarized shades!

Experts say that the sun is good for you and that might be true. However, the experts haven’t quantified how annoying and unsafe the sun can be as well. The brightness and glare personally causes me migraines and general irritability. Due to this I wear shades to help with the discomfort. I never realized though that there were different types of sunglasses until a trip to Hawaii a few years back. While there, a friend of mine introduced me to sunglasses that contained polarized lenses. Simply put: polarized lenses work by filtering out certain ‘orientations’ of sunlight. Usually when sunlight is reflected off a surface it arrives to our eyes in a ‘horizontal orientation’. This orientation is the bright glare that we all despise. Polarized lenses filter this specific orientation of light while permitting others through. How does this help us?

Polarized lenses allow us to see the world more clearly with less glare and light intensity which can help those like me that are over-sensitive to the sun. Not only that but these lenses also promote safety. Safety comes when eyestrain is lessened, our irritability level lowered, and concentration increased due to less distraction. For example, the picture on the left illustrates the appearance of a child where glare once existed. But, these are only some of the more practical reasons for spending the extra few dollars on these types of lenses. The other reason (and the one that I like the most) is the new view of the world that one get from wearing them.

We have seen how glare and light intensity are reduced without mentioning the other important side effect: vivid color changes. What was once an expected landscape of brightness has now been replaced with a view that is just a little more beautiful. This can be seen in the image below: the picture on the left is un-polarized while the one on the right is. I mention this because science states that sunlight is generally good for depression. Now, not only can one get out more, but they have a better view when they do. Try it sometime. Your daily drive will be a whole new more positive experience.


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