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Pain acceptance is the process of giving up the struggle with pain and learning to live life despite pain. PMC study

Pain Acceptance Vox article. So apparently this is a thing now. Well, I knew it was. There has been a steady rise in ‘topics’ that suggest we don’t need painkillers after all we need… meditation, alternative therapies, Advil… or Acceptance. And there you go.

It is known that “Acceptance is associated with lower levels of pain, disability and psychological distress.” PMC study

I have a great deal of pain acceptance, to be honest. I fully comprehend the pain will always be here, no matter the treatment and the goal is to reduce pain and suffering to a tolerable level. Not eradicate the pain which is impossible. I fully comprehend I have to try and have a life with pain and this means not avoiding certain things because of pain or the anticipation of pain. It also means knowing my limits and pacing though. It does mean I have to accept the life the way it is as well. It does, in fact, help with reducing suffering. It does, in fact, help you live a life with your pain. It does, in fact, help. No one would deny that.

A lot of us reach the point of pain acceptance. A lot of us cope and try to manage our lives with pain.

However, we are not in denial as doctors seem to be. We realistically understand pain management requires a Lot of various things from us and from our doctors. From exercise, meditation to medications. And for some people medications are in fact *the horror* opioids. I am in fact on a slow release tramadol for my pain. Doctors refuse to put me on anything else and want to reduce me, but for now I am on it. For now, there is some semblance of pain management with medication. All sorts of medication, mind you. Opioids are not the answer to everything pain. I am on Botox for migraines, Topamax for migraines, depo shots for hormonal migraines (soon to be depo shots anyway). Migraines, migraines, migraines.

And I exercise. I meditate. I take supplements. I use the OSKA pulse, which is a PEMF external stimulation device. I use topical creams. I use ice for migraines. I do what I can. When I can.

I do All of this to manage my pain.

Pain acceptance by itself isn’t sufficient.

And I will tell you why.

Because when pain ISN’T MANAGED, you have a HELL of a time Accepting it. That is right. Weirdly enough when you have roaring, survival mode, out of control pain… you are not in a pain accepting mood. When I was, I was more in a suicidal mood. The reason people say taking away someone’s painkiller treatment will raise suicides is because it will raise suicides. Unmanaged pain kills. You don’t accept it. You loathe it.

It is like telling someone go ahead accept that broken leg… and also, by the way, you Must run a marathon on it. And accept that. Sucks to be you.

You begin to accept pain when it is slightly, even a little bit, managed so that at least you can for one second not think about the pleasant painless state of death. Every step you take towards managed pain the more you accept it. Maybe still disabled by it, because you may be severely limited by the pain. But while you are non-functional with it, you are at the very least not brutalized by it.

And to tell people who are in severe pain that one of the tools that keeps them from being brutalized by the pain that they will just have to learn how to deal with it? With all of it. The whole brutal mass of it without any pain reduction? That is ultimately the cruelest thing I can possibly think of to do to a person. Intentionally cruel. It will ruin lives. From managed pain and Acceptance to unmanaged pain and depression.

I think acceptance therapy is a good thing. I think pain therapy and CBT therapy is all good. It does help in many ways. And we need as many ways possible to cope. Just don’t think we need One way to cope. Don’t be naïve. Complex problems have complex solutions.

4 thoughts on “Pain acceptance

  1. I’ve actually just started seeing a member of the pain management team at my local hospital and I said I’d be interested in covering ACT – acceptance, commitment therapy – because acceptance can be such an important, yet almost overlooked sometimes, and incredibly, awfully difficult part. Thanks for sharing xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, it is definitely important. And I think a lot of people don’t even realize how important it can be really. But I found it fundamentally useful along with my treatment for depression. Both combined helped with the pain management a lot. But I don’t think it would work when I had no pain management at all… I don’t think I had the mindset for it.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I also did a short stint of ACT therapy, so I get the premise that we have to levels of suffering. One is the actual suffering from our disease, our pain. The other is the suffering we might add on top of that from the grief we feel from the losses we experience, the emotions we have due to pain, etc. So when I’m in a bad flare, I can wallow in the pain, mope, mourn the things I’m missing in life, etc. Or I can accept the pain and try to continue to live as best as possible, distract myself, and know it will end/improve eventually.

    Two things I think are missing from the recent acceptance discussion, though. One you bring up, acceptance doesn’t mean pain still doesn’t require or deserve treatment. It can’t just be ignored and un-managed. I have a headache doc who doesn’t get this. Second, not wallowing in the pain can be hard if you are actually dealing with clinical depression on top of the physical illness. I see a therapist and am between anti-despressants at the moment. Otherwise, not sinking into that dark pit where pain tends to take us (or me, at least) can be really hard. Either ways, both points are to say that acceptance on it’s own likely won’t work. Thanks for the post, Nikki!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I was going to mention the depression aspect to this because I also have that… and it make acceptance that much harder to accomplish. Pretty much impossible given the thoughts I had. And once I had effective treatment that improved vastly.

      I do firmly believe that suffering is the one thing we have some control over. Not the suffering from the physical pain itself, but from the thoughts and emotions that come from the pain. And that is where therapy does help us. And there is great value to that. But they are just missing the fact that it needs to be combined with other effective pain management strategies to be effective.

      Liked by 1 person

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