Fight pain like an Olympian

"When life throws you a punch, you may be down, but it is your choice whether or not to get up... You are the only one who can turn the lights out."

The Olympics are on right now, and it is inspiring to see the athletes try their very best to win and do their countries proud. They battle each other as strangers, but those with chronic pain face a battle of their own, a battle within to fight pain. As a pain specialist in Singapore, I see many people struggle with the health and economic consequences of Covid-19. Those not so affected financially are stretched mentally in their own way as the usual things that bring pleasure like eating out and meeting up with friends are curtailed and the outlet for relieving stress is limited. But everyone should fight pain like an Olympian.

With the vaccination, some patients with chronic pain feel that their back or neck or neuropathic pain hurts more. I reassure them that it is usually temporary and will go away with time. It is nevertheless a fight daily, to be positive, to keep moving, to keep breathing, to never surrender to chronic pain. Once in a while you may need to see a medical professional like a pain specialist, orthopaedic surgeon, psychiatrist or psychologist to break out of the vicious pain cycle and its psychological sequelae. Treatment can be in the form of physiotherapy, medications and minimally-invasive procedures.

The important thing to remember is that you are never alone as you fight pain. There are others who ran before you and you can learn from their experience. There are others like myself who run alongside you and can give you a hand. And one day, there will be others who run after you, following you as their guiding light. So inspire them and show them how to be a champion in this Olympic event that we call “life”.

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