We can probably all think of at least one person we know that has complained of either low back pain, neck pain or headaches. You may have experienced one or more of these in the past, maybe you’ve got symptoms right now as you’re reading this. The scary thing is, because these symptoms are so common, many people believe them to be a normal part of life. I can recount so many consultations where I have asked patients who have ticked the box next to ‘headaches’ to tell me more about them and they will say something like ‘Yeah, I get headaches, maybe 3 days a week, they’re eased with paracetamol, but that’s normal right?’….It’s definitely not normal.
I have used the above examples because it’s what I see in practise, but you could use plenty of other symptoms/conditions that are so common they could mistakenly be considered as normal. Many people who experience allergies, psoriasis, insomnia, low energy and period pains may believe they have to just accept feeling less than average and manage their symptoms as best they can.
Symptoms shouldn’t be disregarded and ignored. Your body is designed to function optimally and symptoms are messages from your body trying to tell you something is wrong. It is tempting to cover up symptoms from our body, especially when it comes to pain. Acute pain can be effectively blocked by pain relief medication, such as ibuprofen, paracetamol, naproxen, cocodamol, tramaodol. However, pain relief medication doesn’t actually fix the problem, it just covers up the signal and pain relief doesn’t always help when it comes to chronic pain.
An analogy I like to use to help explain this is – imagine if you were driving and your ‘check engine’ light came on in your car…you could acknowledge that something wasn’t right and get the engine checked and have the necessary work carried out to fix the engine and tadah, the light is no longer on. OR you could stick a sticker over the light and pretend there’s no problem at all. Your body is the engine and the light is the pain signal and the sticker is the pain relief.
People don’t just cover up pain, we take antihistamines for allergies, antibiotics for acne, statins for cholesterol, metformin for diabetes, the list goes on! Instead of accepting common complaints as a normal part of life and trying to cover up symptoms with medication, the root cause of the problem needs to be established and worked on. If you get rid of the cause of the problem, the body will no longer have to send you signals in the form of symptoms.