A Problem & A New Vision for RA Treatment

The type of pain associated with moderate-severe RA is comparable to bone cancer. This is a quote from a recent post by Vanessa Collins on HealthCentral, an interview with Mischelle Jackson, who lives with RA. The source of the quote is Mischelle’s rheumatologist. And it has been reverberating in my mind since I first read it a week ago. I have never heard anyone compare RA pain to any other pain. It makes sense, though. This lifts pain out of the very individual and problematic 1-10 pain scale. A scale which, exactly because of its individual nature, does nothing to convince doctors that your pain is very real and is indeed that high. Assigning an arbitrary number that varies from person to person — and varies from experience to experience within one person — feeds the notion that high pain equals the person not coping well with the pain (as opposed to being a really high level of pain). And so, catastrophizing enters the picture. Yes, that again. I’ve shared my feelings about that concept before more than once, but let me recap. It is a term used to describe the way people with chronic pain deal with their pain. Or rather, not deal with it. It’s a concept used in medicine and medical research to indicate that a person worries a lot about their pain, magnifies the pain and its impact and includes a feeling of helplessness. Which to most people who actually live with chronic pain sounds like a pretty normal response to high levels of pain. Right? I do think that there is such a thing as coping well and coping not-well with pain, but I also think that medical professionals labeling certain statements and emotions as catastrophizing is condescending and patronizing and shows complete lack of […]

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