Secondary Pain: Trying to Avoid Pain But Causing Other Pain

I spend a lot of my time lying down. One of the things I love about working from home is being able to work lying down. I also relax lying down. The existence of laptops means that I can literally work with my computer on my lap every day. Sitting or standing for too long triggers pain throughout my back. Often sitting and working at a desk makes my upper back (between my shoulders) scream and shout—I feel deep stabbing pain and long-drawn-out soreness. Standing too long triggers my lower back and makes it ache and ache.

Secondary Pain: Trying to Avoid Pain But Causing Other Pain

Therefore, lying down is often a relief after a long day out. In the past when I’ve had to be at work or school all day and then commute home, it’s been a huge relief to lie down. In fact, such a relief that I often have had trouble getting up again to cook no matter how hungry I am after work or school.

But working from home, I have this luxury much of the time. It makes it easier to cook and work out, for example, but sometimes, I lie down so much that I get a secondary pain from lying in one position too long.

This pain is still better than working sitting or standing, but it’s not pain-free. This kind of pain is more like a lingering ache or soreness and it’s in a different part of my back than the pain that I get from standing or sitting. It’s not as intense or lingering as standing or sitting pain, but it’s not insignificant.

I don’t know what to do with this pain. I don’t have a better option for working or relaxing. I can always recognize it when it starts. I start to feel a low and deep ache in my muscles somewhere along my spine. Occasionally, it helps to lie down in a different position, but not always and not completely. When I sit up, sometimes it relaxes. But then other parts of my back start to ache.

It’s a no-win situation. Often, the secondary pain is the least bad option so I go back to that quickly. But it helps to explain why even lying down all day, I can still be tired and sore. As a result, I try to appreciate experiencing less pain and fatigue than I might otherwise.

I don’t know how to discuss this pain. It feels like complaining about a privilege or luxury. And at the same time, it’s hard to distinguish this kind of pain from my primary pain sources. And more than that, I don’t know how to talk about it with others. I don’t know if I should distinguish it from my other pain or that if it would even be a meaningful distinction to most people.

Secondary pain is the only thing I can think of to describe this kind of pain. I imagine that there are lots of this type of pain that different people with different illnesses and disabilities experience. I wonder how they talk about it or understand it as part of their experience.

Secondary Pain: Trying to Avoid Pain But Causing Other Pain

Photo by Manos Kolovouris on Unsplash

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