Pain – that unpleasant sensation that none of us desire to experience. It involves a complex interaction between our specialised nerves, spinal cord, and our brain whenever there’s a muscle or tissue damage. Pain can be classified into two major categories:
- Acute pain: a sudden pain that resolves within a certain amount of time
- Chronic pain: persistent pain that lasts for months, or even longer.
In a 2017 GSK Global Pain Index which surveyed 19,000 adults across 32 countries, it was found that about 85% of 500 Singaporeans surveyed reported having experienced head and body pain, with 4 in 10 suffering body pain every week.
That’s an alarmingly high percentage!
The article continues that those who worked through their pain were 15% less productive than their counterparts who experienced no pain.
Dr. Yeo Sow Nam, director of The Pain Specialist at Mount Elizabeth Hospital, told The Straits Times, “Pain is very disruptive, not only for the individual sufferer, but extends to nearly all aspects of their lives.”
Therefore, in this article, we aim to expound on the 5 different aspects of how pain can impact the quality of our daily life:
Studies reveal that back pain interferes with getting to sleep and staying asleep through the night.
If you could imagine with us:
After a long bustling day at work, you were finally on your bed, ready to sleep. However, you felt this pronounced pain on your back. This pain had always been there, but you didn’t notice it in the day because you were so busy and distracted with work. The sudden increased awareness caused you to keep tossing and turning to find a comfortable position, but to no avail. And before you knew it, your alarm rang and you realised you had barely slept.:(
Sadly, this is a common scenario for most people with chronic lower back pain. And the frustrating part is that lack of restorative sleep increases the pain too. They thus enter into this vicious cycle which could drastically affect their emotions and cognitive functions, which are elaborated below.
Decreases the ability to exercise
No one likes to exercise when one is in pain. In fact, exercising is probably the last thing on anyone’s mind when one is experiencing any forms of pain – be it muscle pain, back pain, neck pain, or joints pain. Lack of exercise could lead to a largely sedentary lifestyle which if not accompanied by a healthy diet, can result in increased weight, low metabolism, and other health complications in the body.
Affects social activities
Sitting through the 3-hour Avengers End Game in the cinema could prove to be uncomfortable and miserable for a person with lower back pain or neck pain. The joy of participating in social gatherings such as bowling, playing board games, long hours of TGIF drinks sessions, are minimised when you have to deal with the pain and can’t be fully present in the gathering.
Eventually, having a constant bad headache or back pain for an extended period can make one depressed and anxious when their sleep and daily activities are affected. It can be frustrating to feel less than a normal functioning person with every sharp pain and discomfort that accompanies when they try to do seemingly normal stuff such as sleeping or walking or even sitting still to watch a movie. This can take a toll on a person’s mental health, leading to depression and anxiousness.
The hopeful news is that by treating the pain, the negative emotions that may coincide with it may go away as well. Having a good uninterrupted sleep through the night always restores one’s well-being.
Affects cognitive functions
Chronic pain is frequently associated with cognitive impairment. Tolerating pain can lead to a difficulty in concentration as one with a lower back pain may tend to keep shifting position to find a comfortable spot while in a meeting. In some cases, chronic pain may affect an individual’s thinking and reasoning which could manifest when they are working on a report/ presentation while tolerating the pain.
Fortunately, with chiropractic, we can choose to take a more active role and deal with the pain instead of merely tolerating it in our daily life. Chiropractic helps to diagnose and treat mechanical disorders of the musculoskeletal system, especially the spine. The main technique involves spinal manipulation therapy, and it can be effective toward treating and managing chronic pain.
 Alsaadi SM, McAuley JH, Hush JM, Maher CG. Prevalence of sleep disturbance in patients with low back pain. European Spine Journal. 2011; 20: 737–743
Dr. Jenny Li is the appointed chairman of Medical Committee for NABBA WFF Singapore.