Detailed guides to painful problems, treatments & more

Dead or pretending?

 •  • by Paul Ingraham
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Weekly nuggets of pain science news and insight, usually 100-300 words, with the occasional longer post. The blog is the “director’s commentary” on the core content of PainScience.com: a library of major articles and books about common painful problems and popular treatments. See the blog archives or updates for the whole site.

In most cases, one chronic pain patient asking another “what works for you?” is largely futile, like someone with an infection asking for tips from someone with cancer. There are many types of pain, and minimal overlap in what helps different cases.

To make this basic point in a fun way today, I thought I’d do my own version of the popular “dead or pretending” meme, fine-tuned for chronic pain.

Comic strip, 4 panels, all featuring two ancient soldiers standing up, and several more lying on the ground in front of them, seemingly dead. Panel one: one live soldier asks, “How do we know if they’re actually dead or just pretending?” Second panel, the other soldier shouts: “I have chronic pain!” Third panel: four of the seemingly dead soldiers speak up, saying “Yoga!” “CBD!” “Lasers!” “Meditation!” In the fourth panel, the two live soldiers proceed to finish off the soldiers who revealed themselves as just pretending.

The original “dead or pretending” comic is by Spaceboy Can’t LOL (Facebook, Instagram). It has become a popular meme & there are a few versions of it floating around about chronic pain/illness, I wanted my own just-right version for this post. It’s so funny-because-it’s-true.

Unfortunately, there are so many more than just four reflexive, dubious recommendations that people constantly make for chronic pain. Indeed, there are dozens!