By Mark Pew, Senior VP, Preferred Medical
This week I want to share two articles about tolerance—with both pain and patience. The first article is about how your friends can impact your pain tolerance. The second is a report on the ever increasing impatience of the human race.
Chronic pain is a common health problem for millions of people. Research has found that everyone has a different level of pain tolerance, confirming everyone’s personal experience with others. Part of a person’s pain tolerance can be attributed to genetics, but a recent study published in the Scandinavian Journal of Pain has found that environmental factors play a huge role as well. The study found friends tend to have similar levels of pain tolerance, with the greatest tolerance coming from male-male friendships.
The old adage “birds of a feather flock together” may be true in an individual’s ability to manage Chronic Pain. This Norwegian study of male adolescents highlighted the social influences on pain. Observations showed that friends had similar pain tolerance levels. This could be due to “people who are similar tend to become friends (homophily)…friends influence each other so that they become more similar (social transmission)…share a similar lifestyle…peer pressure.” Common sense confirms that who you hang out with can impact your resilience. If you’re surrounded by people with negative attitudes then negativity abounds (especially when circumstances are difficult). The good news is that the inverse is also true—if you’re surrounded by positive people that uplift and encourage then you’re more likely to be positive and resilient yourself. Whether you’re the one that needs encouraging or the one that can be a positive encourager, paying attention to your social network is incredibly important to your daily life. Selecting encouraging, positive friends can obviously help with managing pain. But just having friends—relationships—is a positive step. Isolation is often a side effect of chronic pain. When you don’t feel good you don’t feel like being around other people. But being around other people may just be the “medicine” you need to start feeling better.
A recent survey has concluded that people are incredibly impatient. Of 2,000 people surveyed, three quarters said they believe it is because of technology, such as smartphones and streaming services for our TV’s. The impatience may stem from technology, but it carries over into other aspects, such as waiting for a pen to dry, a traffic light to change, or waiting in line at a store. What does that have to do with pain? A lot. Because if you expect easy, quick answers to complex medical conditions you will constantly be frustrated with the lack of progress. Often, truly successful pain management does not fit into an instant gratification culture.
Impatience is part of who we are as humans now. Respondents reported:
- Becoming frustrated after just 16 seconds of waiting for a web page to load
- Losing their temper after just 20 seconds of waiting for ink to dry on a greeting card (really?)
- Just 30 seconds of waiting in a line would be enough to try their patience
- They expect to receive replies to “important” emails within 90 minutes (keep that in mind, all of you in Customer Service or Sales or management)
What do all of these things have in common? They’re outside the control of the individual. And there’s absolutely nothing they can do to influence the results. That results in frustration (and sometimes outright anger). Does that sound like someone in Chronic Pain? It can. But if you’ve read enough of my content you’ll know I disagree with that takeaway. Certainly there are some aspects that are beyond control of the individual, but to disregard what CAN be influenced ignores the power of neuroplasticity and the possibilities of resilience. Patience is indeed a virtue. As is diligence and discipline. And knowing the difference between a quick-fix and a permanent fix. And that it takes time to build new & better habits. You can either view life as something that happens to you or as something that you make happen. Yes, there are things outside of your control or even influence. But there are more things actually within your control, including how you respond to things outside of your control. As the Serenity Prayer says…
Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
To read everything on my mind this past week, please visit me on LinkedIn.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed above are those of Mark Pew, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Preferred Medical.
About Mark Pew
Mark Pew, Senior Vice President of Product Development and Marketing for Preferred Medical, is a passionate educator and agitator. Known as the RxProfessor, Mark is focused on the intersection of chronic pain and appropriate treatment, particularly as it relates to the clinical and financial implications of prescription painkillers, non-pharma treatment modalities and the evolution of medical marijuana. He is a strong champion for the workers’ compensation industry to #PreventTheMess and #CleanUpTheMess, movements he created to drive attention to the importance of individualized appropriate treatment for injured workers. Mark is a vocal advocate of the BioPsychoSocialSpiritual treatment model.
Mark serves on the IAIABC’s Medical Issues Committee and SIIA’s Workers’ Compensation Committee. In addition, he serves as technical advisor to regulators and legislators in 20+ jurisdictions on subjects such as drug formularies, treatment guidelines, Opioid Task Force initiatives, encouraging support of non-pharma treatment options and the medicinal use of cannabis. Mark received the WorkCompCentral Magna Comp Laude award in 2016 and the IAIABC’s Samuel Gompers Award in 2017.