Pain is a problem that comes in all different forms, it stops us doing our normal day to day things that we enjoy, interferes with our sleep and our work and stops us from playing with our children.
All in all its a big issue, not just in Stoke on Trent, but in the whole world. It costs the healthcare system billions of pounds to help assess and treat, it causes countless days of time off work and we still haven’t found a cure.
There is a lot going on in the world of pain research and our knowledge has been developing over the past 10-15 years in a number of areas including psychology like how we feel about ourselves, our future and our past, and how this links in with the pain we feel. There are also links with genetics and a number of cellular changes that occur with chronic pain.
It might seem strange but there is not one type of pain, there are different causes or sources of the pains that we feel. They can be broken down into technical areas but if we simply split them into Acute and Chronic or persistent pain it may be easier to understand.
Acute pain, which is what we are all familiar with, is what we feel after we have had an injury or an accident. For example, we might twist an ankle when we fall off the kerb, the body registers that something needs doing and the ankle swells up, it becomes difficult to put weight on the foot and it forces us to do less. But, over time, tissues heal, we become more confident at putting weight through the leg and things return to normal. This is what should happen…however it is not always this simple.
Enter the concept of chronic or persistent pain. This is pain that goes on for longer than it should take the tissues to heal, it causes us to do less, move less and can be really frightening. Often the medication doesn’t work and everything becomes more difficult. You start to wonder if you are ever going to get any better. Rather than this being tissue based, as in a sprained ankle, or a strain of a muscle, it starts to be more focused on the nerve itself. This is where it gets technical, but the body starts to protect you, it puts you into overdrive and sees everything as a threat. It decides that the best way to deal with everything is to make you hurt, therefore you stop doing things because you feel you might hurt less. However, in a cruel twist that’s not what happens, you actually hurt more (because you’re not doing anything) and so the cycle continues, you do less…you hurt more.
So what do I do about it then?
At 1st 4 Physiotherapy, we recognise that pain doesn’t just affect a joint or an area of the body, it affects you as a whole person, it interferes with who you are and what you do. It can be linked to depression, fear of movement and activity and retracting from friends and family. This has far reaching consequences, not only for you but for others who want to help, it can put strain on relationships, jobs and finances. Generally, its not very nice and you don’t want it anymore, But wait, its not all bad, there are things that can be done to get you back on track. Bodies are tough, strong and designed for movement. They can take a lot of stick before they break or give up, you just need to do things in the right way, at the right time. A lot of the evidence shows that if people understand why they are in pain and the changes the body makes to maintain the pain you feel, people get better. The pain may not go away completely, but you might get your life back. It’s a complex thing and the body goes through a lot of changes when you are in persistent pain but there are ways of moving forward and understanding your body, and your pain, better. Just because we are a Physiotherapy Practice doesn’t mean that we will get you running, jumping and doing exercises, sometimes all you need is an explanation of what is going on, talking things through and seeing how we can get you facing a more positive future controlling your pain rather than it controlling you.
So if this sounds like you, if you are suffering and would like a chat to see how we can help then we would be delighted to see you. Help us understand your pain.
Here are some useful links you may want to look at:
These videos may also be of interest to you: