Chronic Pain and how to manage it..
What is pain?
Pain is an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage or as described by the patient in terms of such damage . There are two basic types of pain; acute and chronic.
In chronic (persistent) pain, even thought the original cause of the pain may have stopped, the other factors may still be present, so the brain keeps the pain cycle going.
Common Pain Beliefs:
There is a common misunderstanding that
• Pain = Tissue damage
• The amount of pain experienced= The EXTENT of the tissue damage
Several studies have indicated that this is not the case.
Below is a compilation of results of 33 articles covering MRI reports of 3110 people without back pain.
Factors influencing pain volume
We often refer to the amount of pain in terms of volume. There are certain factors that can increase or decrease the volume of pain.
- Lack of control
- Thinking about the pain
- Previous poor experiences
- Information and education
- Exercise and stretching
- Sense of control
- Social interaction
- Known positive outcomes
- Previous positive experience
Useful tips on decreasing the volume:
Acceptance – Recognizing that you have chronic pain and have to take more control with regards to how you can better self-manage your pain.
Support team– having a support network (GP, health care professionals, family and friends) that will help you maintain your self-management plan.
Pacing– ensuring you have the right balance between activity and rest. Some examples below:
- Ironing- Spread it over a period of days, do small amounts frequently over the week
- Shopping- instead of one large shop a week, do 2-3 shops in a week. Get friends and family to help with the heavy items or if on your own, buy smaller quantities/packs.
Distraction – Everyone has strategies that work for them. Like pain medication, however, you may have to try several things before you find the distraction technique that is right for you. Try some of these:
- Watch your favourite television program
- Call a friend and chat about anything other than pain
- Read a book
- Participate in a relaxing hobby, such as knitting or card-making
- Do a challenging word puzzle
- Listen to soothing music
- Play a video game
Exercise and stretching
- Choose exercise that you’ll enjoy
- Include some aerobic exercise in your program
- Some discomfort with exercises is fine
- Start slowly and be consistent across days
- Don’t do more on good days and less on bad days
- Slowly up the exercise program by first increasing volume before intensity
- Ask your physiotherapist or osteopath to help with developing an exercise program that would be right for you
Our osteopaths and physiotherapists at Woodside Clinic in Dunstable and Leighton Buzzard are very happy to advise you, please call us on 01582 608400 or 01525 372 477 for more information or to book an appointment.
Some useful resources/websites:
• British pain society – people with pain https://www.britishpainsociety.org/people-with-pain/
• Explain pain in 5 minutes video
• Health talk website – from patients to patients, lots of video interviews of patients opinions and experiences of PMP