Managing Chronic Pain
Pain, especially if it is ongoing can be debilitating and emotionally and physically exhausting. Pain is something that affects all of us at some stage, but luckily most pain is short term and we can move back to our normal lives fairly quickly. We now know ALL pain comes from the brain, knowing this helps us to be able to work towards reducing our pain through a number of strategies.
When you have pain for a few weeks to a few months, it’s called acute pain. Tissue injuries, including back pain or muscle strains are often the cause of acute pain; the good news is with proper care and rehabilitation this type of pain will eventually go with no further problems for the individual.
Some people suffer pain over a long period of time. Pain lasting 3 months or more is called chronic pain, an alarming one in five Australians suffers from chronic pain. As most tissue (muscle, tendon, ligament, disc, bone) damage heals over 3 to 6 months we know that chronic pain is unlikely to be due to tissue damage, so what is causing the ongoing pain? It is thought that the brain continues to send pain signals because of over sensitivity in the nervous system.
The key is to disrupt the ongoing pain signals by learning how to retrain the brain. Many people suffering with chronic pain often feel overwhelmed by the many ‘fixes’ and ‘solutions’ they are promised by various health practitioners. Pain sufferers may be offered pain medication; this may help in the short term. Used cautiously, medication may be helpful initially to allow you to get back to normal movement and day to day living, with the aim of reducing the medication and ceasing completely. Surgery may also be suggested, be sure to get a second opinion before making a decision to have surgery. Chronic pain is often complex, involving more than body structures that may or may not be fixed with surgery.
Considerations when dealing with chronic pain includes, emotions (stress levels, anxiety) and lifestyle (diet, physical activity, smoking, etc) all of which can contribute to sensitising our nervous system and playing a role in continuing chronic pain. Pain can be attributed to a stressful period in your life and being able to acknowledge this may be an important part to the healing process.
Dealing with chronic pain is complex and often entails many considerations. Recognising that YOU can greatly assist your body by retraining your brain to help your chronic pain is an important step to ridding chronic pain. Learning about pain allows you to take some ownership of what is occurring in your body. Getting back to physical activity or work, along with mapping out a plan can happen today!
Book: Explain Pain, by David Butler and Lorimer Moseley http://www.noigroup.com/en/product/epbii