The Stigma of Chronic Pain

The Stigma of Chronic Pain

At Abundant Natural Health, we deal a lot with people who are suffering with chronic pain conditions, so we know how vulnerable and desperate they are for solutions to restore their quality of life. It can affect a person’s ability to work, engage in relationships as well as their mental health and wellbeing.

For this year’s World Pain Day, we wanted to expose the crippling reality of living with chronic pain, focussing on the stigma of having an ‘invisible disease’.

Here are the facts:

  • Chronic pain affects 1 in 5 Americans [1].
  • A whopping 85% of people with chronic pain suffer from severe depression [2], and 25% experience poor sleep [3].
  • In 2019, 14,000 people died from overdose of prescription opioids, thats 38 people a day! [4].

What is Chronic Pain?

Pain is designed to PROTECT us. It is our body letting us know that our tissues are actually or potentially being damaged [5]. For this reason, immediate or acute pain is necessary for our survival. If not treated early and effectively, acute can become chronic pain.

Chronic pain is pain that has been ongoing for more than 3 months or persists beyond the usual duration expected for an acute injury or disease. Three interconnected neuroplastic changes contribute to the development of chronic pain [6]:

  1. Peripheral sensitisation: meaning the area becomes more sensitive to any stimuli (even if it is non-painful) and fires pain signals more frequently.
  2. Central sensitisation: ‘winding up’ the nerves in the spinal cord, leading to more pain signals being sent to the brain.
  3. Descending modulation: characterised by decreased brain chemicals sent down the spinal cord to block the pain response.


Chronic pain is REAL. It is complicated and hugely misunderstood in our society. Having an invisible disease- an absence of observable physical damage can lead to people with chronic pain being labelled ‘complainers’ or ‘drug seekers’.  It is these stigmatising responses - the lack of empathy, trust, belief, feelings of blame and even dismissal by healthcare providers which can leave a someone with chronic pain feeling isolated and out of options. This may also lead to the internalisation of stigma for people with chronic pain, who may start to doubt their own symptoms and question the credibility of their own pain [7,8].

There is an undeniable need for awareness about the relationship between mental health and chronic pain. We need public health campaigns and programs which target these stigmatising reactions (including by healthcare providers) while empowering and building the resilience of people with chronic pain [9].

Looking for natural pain relief without the nasty side effects? Magnesium is a well known anti-inflammatory with proven effective relief from muscle and join pain, symptoms of mild arthritis, osteoarthritis, period pains and migraines. This World Pain Day we are offering you 50% OFF our MAG I.C. Gel and Spray, but hurry this deal ends at midnight on the 11 October 2021.

Disclaimer: This blog is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read in this blog. Information is gathered and shared from reputable sources; however, Abundant Natural Health is not responsible for errors or omissions in reporting or explanation.


  1. Zelaya, C.E., Dahlhamer, J.M., Lucas, J.W., Connor, E.M. Chronic pain and high-impact chronic pain among U.S. adults, 2019. NCHS Data Brief, no 390. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2020.
  2. Sheng, J., Liu, S., Wang, Y., Cui, R., & Zhang, X. (2017). The Link between Depression and Chronic Pain: Neural Mechanisms in the Brain. Neural plasticity2017, 9724371.
  3. National Sleep Foundation (2020). Pain and Sleep [Online]. Available from: [Accessed 08/10/2021].
  4. Wide-ranging online data for epidemiologic research (WONDER). Atlanta, GA: CDC, National Center for Health Statistics; 2020. Available at
  5. International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP). (2017). IASP Terminology. Retrieved 24 Feb 21 from
  6. Turner, J. (2019). NURS5084 Nursing the Acutely Ill Person, lecture 1, week 8: Pain Management [Lecture PowerPoint slides].
  7. Monsivais, D. (2013). Decreasing the stigma burden of chronic pain. Journal of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, 25(10), 551–556.
  8. Toye, B. (2010). “Could I be imagining this?” - the dialectic struggles of people with persistent unexplained back pain. Disability and Rehabilitation, 32(21), 1722–1732. 
  9. De Ruddere, C. (2016). Understanding stigma and chronic pain: a-state-of-the-art review. Pain (Amsterdam), 157(8), 1607–1610. 
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