Technology and Chronic Pain

Technology is such a big part of most of our lives that it presents a worthwhile discussion when it comes to chronic pain. Of course, technology also offers tremendous advantages in terms of access to information, resources, and training.

There are some drawbacks however, two of which I will detail.

Technology was predicted to reduce our stress levels, expand, and simplify our lives, and potentially free hours off our daily toil. However, the complication of keeping up with changes in technology in a rapidly expanding discipline, remains stressful, as do security issues and the physiological stressors arising from screen gazing, excessive virtual time, and prolonged compromising postures. 

We are increasingly dependent on our mobile phones, many of us constantly checking emails and social media and the latest array of e-novelties and delights. For many, phone gazing has become the default mode whenever there are a few spare minutes to spare. It is also completely normal these days for couples and family members to be seemingly happily involved with their own phones for extended periods even while sitting together after dinner. 

It has been widely discussed that immersion and over-involvement in social media can make one feel down, given the fact that “friends” often tend to selectively broadcast their successes and achievements, some appearing not to ever quite put a foot wrong. We generally hear a lot less about their failures and disappointments than we do about their prosperity stream. 

We already know that excessive phone and computer screen time can have a depressogenic (mood-lowering) effect on one, just as much as excessive TV watching does. Living a large part of one ‘s life virtually, is almost like reducing it to a spectator sport. 

This having been said, social media is a valuable asset enjoyed and used in a helpful, positive way by many millions of consumers. For the more isolated and the aged, it has variously been described as a lifeline or godsend.

The message in all of the above is, beware of the potential negative effect of long periods of TV/computer/mobile phone time, especially with chronic pain when already you are hardly feeling your best. 

The second potential problem concerns unhelpful medical research by those desperately seeking answers but having limited subject knowledge. Incessant scouring of the internet for medical information or advice is an important but particularly difficult habit to break. British researchers showed several years ago that people conducting internet research tend to select studies and articles that support their initial opinions and biases, even if they have subject knowledge. 

It seems that most consumers look at the first three pages of offerings of the search engine results on chronic pain, often spending much of the time on the most sensational articles about the most severe conditions within the category. This usually increases their anxiety and sense of dread, especially since they are seldom able to discern whether or not the source is reliable.

It is advisable to first seek out the most reliable and reputable health websites before browsing. Here one ‘s family physician can often be of help.

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