Pain is supposed to be useful. It warns us of injury, illness – to avoid putting our foot back on the floor when we have stepped on a tack…..BUT sometimes even this useful system goes wrong – that is what this blog is looking at.
Lets start with a definition: As defined by the leading world authority on the subject – The International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP).
“An unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage, or described in terms of such damage”.
There is lots of detail to understand in that definition. Note the use of the word emotional – pain is miserable, depressing, agonising and so much more than this. The sensory bit is things like dull, sharp, stabbing, aching. Also note the use of words ACTUAL – meaning you are damaged and the word POTENTIAL – there isn’t any damage but the threat is sufficient to produce a response !
The image above is trying to show that acute pain (new pain or damage pain – “useful pain !! there’s a thought for you) is relatively simple: damage produces a simple “ON & OFF” switch of pain that is proportional or correct for the level of damage. Switches off when the problem is sorted.
The Chronic Pain device is filled with complicated dials and no obvious “OFF” switch.
Chronic pain can be due to a long term medical problem and therefore appropriate (many of the “arthritis” conditions are examples, there are about 200 different types of arthritis !!) BUT more often chronic pain is FAULTY, pointless, useless, greater than the level of any remaining damage, existing when NO damage exists anymore, going up & down for no obvious reason.
YES: It is still miserable, agonising, depressing, and affects your life & REAL.
NO; it is not imagined or made up….. BUT….
YOU ARE NOT DAMAGED OR BEING DAMAGED DESPITE WHAT IT FEELS LIKE !!
… how do we know?? – well we don’t absolutely BUT “what’s left?”
Of course you need to be sure that there is no cause, disease or that something has been overlooked. Then what? …..
…..well, this is whole new world, a change of what you believe, your body seems to telling to you there is something wrong BUT there isn’t. The “spark” that seems to ignite your pain is often small, “a draft”, “I sat wrong” or so many other triggers which get blamed for causing a flare up. Stress is a significant factor in amplifying, influencing pain. Stress chemicals are evil and do affect how we experience pain and cope with pain.
But if you want to move on and” get your life back” changing your thinking is what you must do. And yes it is absolutely possible millions of people do … they get to enjoy life, living “despite pain” !! …. So on with the concept of how do you get started.
Have a look at this simple 10 min video link about “acute” pain and in particular “chronic” pain:
You are on staircase to a better life EVEN with your pain – REALLY ! well yes probably: plan for the worst. YOU have to get on with life – to live – You can & YOU will….
PLAN – small steps. Plan your activity whether it is housework, a walk or whatever. Think like an ATHLETE but you are you’re own coach: what are you going to do? how much? & for how long. NOT UNTIL IT HURTS LIKE HELL – WRONG
PACE – make your activity achievable, small victories are best.
GRADED EXPOSURE – gradually increase your exposure to activity, chores and exercises (walking, gentle keep fit, tai chi, yoga, Pilates – are reasonable early suggestions) plan the exposure NO leaps into the unknown
PLAN – review the success of your 1st step – plan the next step: slightly more slightly less or repeat the same.
There will be some UP’s and some DOWN’s – you will not get it right all the time. Increases in PAIN are to be expected and will most often be FOR NO REASON – so don’t over analysis.
So go on get out an old fashion note pad. Set a couple goals – to leave the house, to do something in the garden, to meet up with a couple of friends, do a walk.
SMALL, ACHIEVABLE – PLAN it DO IT. Success or failure DO IT AGAIN make some SMALL changes – DO IT
Do not get controlled by the good day / bad day swing door – do Too much on the Good days and do nothing on the bad !! Sometimes called the under activity / over activity trap.
FIND A LEVEL THAT YOU CAN DO REGARDLESS
Do what you planned, Stick to the plan NOT more Not less. Build in rest – this might be a lie down but could easily be a lighter activity. But PLAN it – DO IT.
: IF YOU NEED SUPPORT – LOTS OF PHYSIO’s WORK IN THIS AREA, THERE ARE CHRONIC PAIN SERVICES – ASK YOUR GP. EVEN IF YOU FEEL YOU HAVE BEEN LET DOWN BY HEATHCARE TO-DATE…… GOOD LUCK, YOU CAN DO IT: