Understanding Chronic Pain
Most people describe pain as being an unpleasant physical experience that is associated with tissue damage, or an actual event that caused an injury to occur.
Sometimes though, people will suffer from ongoing pain even if they have not been involved in an event that can be attributed to injury, damage, or illness.
Trauma is one or those silent causes of chronic pain. *This is a very large topic that deserves it’s own in depth discussion, we will post some links on this later this month.
Pain is considered to be chronic if it hangs around for 3 months or longer and once this pain sets in, it can understandably add emotional and mental stress to the sufferer
There is a link between chronic pain and emotion and depression
Recent research and writings (Gadi Gilam et.al 2020) highlight the presence of mental health and emotional instabilities such as anxiety, depression and anger in people with chronic pain. The author also highlights that there are inadequacies in the treatments available for these patients because, due to past education, a pain practitioner would be working within a science model and would not necessarily have a deep understanding or interest in what an emotion is.
The author encourages the working collaboration of professionals from the science communities and the humanities communities to provide alternative treatment options for patients.
By bringing their joint knowledge, skills and expertise together in one treatment plan, these practitioners can work with patients on both the physical and the emotional levels.
It is in this junction of where science meets humanities that we at New Body Physiotherapy are working to introduce behaviour change, understanding and different therapeutic outcomes to provide relief to our chronic pain sufferers
Changing practitioner mindset and treatment
If a practitioner has the mindset that pain is only present because a body part or tissue is damaged, then this practitioner’s treatment plan would probably be very restrictive with very little benefit to the patient. In fact, treatment for chronic pain that does not include education, behaviour change, and emotional support could add to the chronic pain sufferer’s condition rather than giving them relief.
Studies have shown that chronic pain sufferers are essentially jaded and do not have much faith in a system that consistently does not meet their needs. It is no wonder that patients are reluctant and resistant to change their behaviour and understanding towards their pain.
People with pain will need to be educated or introduced to different treatment models/modalities to help them to change their perception or understanding or even experience of their pain for their behaviour to change.
Their behaviour is restricted by their experience of the pain and the fear and emotion that the experience brings up for them.
A chronic pain sufferer is going to be reluctant to engage with any movement that they fear will cause them more pain or injury
By changing the idea or experience of their pain at an intellectual or emotional level with talk therapy the pain experience will change.
It is up to the practitioner who works in this field of chronic pain to take a deep dive into truly understanding how it feels to suffer from chronic pain.
Treating chronic pain with a holistic approach
When our clients are introduced to our chronic pain treatment model that includes emotional support therapy (Psychotherapy) plus Physiotherapy they begin to understand their pain more and their focus shifts away from the rigid medical viewpoint that all pain has a physical cause.
We work with a lot of persistent pain sufferers in our clinic and the vast majority of these clients report to us that they have deep emotional pain which could be linked to the lack of understanding that is shown to them by the system that endorses a medical approach to pain management and fails to educate the patient and the people closest to the them, which in turn perpetuates the cycle of misunderstanding and pain.
By giving these clients the opportunity to delve deeper into the emotional experience of their pain we are helping them to break through the restrictive barriers that living with chronic pain imposes upon them.
We believe that by treating pain with a combined approach of physical and emotional therapies, the severity and debilitating effects of the pain will be reduced.
It is from this place of education and understanding that we can begin to counteract the preconceived notion that chronic pain suffers should medicate with pain killers and avoid as much physical activity as possible
Introducing movement is easier than it sounds
Studies in pain rehabilitation have found that most pain sufferers fail to change their behaviour to pain and thus their experience of pain when education is limited to literature-based models. What is necessary to inflict positive change is to notice the experience shift through living rather than merely knowing.
In other words, you can’t read or talk your way out of pain, the closest you can come to getting to know its behaviour and character is by gradually moving into it. In our clinic, people are equipped with basic theoretical knowledge of how persistent pain works in the brain and body but most importantly what helps clients experience less pain overtime. Our treatment model supports our patients to gradually move into movements that up until now have been too scary to even contemplate.
These perceptions can be built from past experiences or based on inaccurate information passed on from previous practitioners. These are all protective behaviours that can limit human potential.
What helps pain is by helping the brain understand that previous held beliefs may not be accurate in the present time. That the body is more resilient than one imagines it to be, even a body in pain.
The only way to discover this is by experiential progress, gradually and gently coaxing the body into the movements that have been avoided for months or years and suddenly noticing that the tension you have held is fed more by the outdated information
- Not always a reason or explanation for pain
- Treat the pain from an emotional and a physical level
- Introduce behavioural change exercises
- Deep understanding will facilitate relief
Your pain may not go away entirely but it is also not a life sentence.
Our model and philosophy support our patients to engage with their pain to empower themselves to learn from their experience and to make the right choices to live a better life
If you would like to find out if we can help you click here to book a complimentary 30 minute chat with one of the pain management specialists at New Body Physiotherapy