The chances are that you will have experienced physical pain at some point in your life. You may have injured yourself, pulled a muscle, twisted an ankle or hurt your back. You’ll be able to empathise with someone who has a similar pain. You know what it feels like.
Now imagine that your pain doesn’t get better. It doesn’t go away. You might visit the doctor but what if they can’t diagnose the cause of your pain, can’t tell you why you are in pain and can’t really do much to stop the pain from happening?
It’s a large scale problem
The charity Action on Pain estimates that 1 in 4 people in the UK are affected by chronic pain (pain that lasts for 12 weeks or more). The current thinking in medical circles is that some forms or chronic pain can’t be treated and so have to be managed. Some people are faced with a lifetime of pain and little or no help to try to alleviate their suffering.
So what is pain?
OK this is a really brief overview of a very complex issue. The following definition is from NHS Scotland
“your brain and the nerves inside your spine make up your central nervous system. The spinal nerves carry messages from the body to the brain to tell it what’s going on.
The brain acts like a control centre working out from these messages, if it needs to do anything. It’s sometimes easier to think of how the messages and the brain combine together to form an alarm system. It’s the brain’s interpretation of this information from the alarm system that results in the feeling of pain. Sometimes the brain’s interpretation of these signals isn’t accurate.
We usually expect pain to settle down with time but sometimes the brain continues to send out pain signals. These signals can be hard to stop, are often intense and at times seem to come for no obvious reason.”
There’s so much more to pain
Pain is a really complex issue. Research over the last few decades has found that pain can be the result of emotional trauma as well as physical injury. It’s sometimes called the body / mind connection. A good example of this is the fact that it really is possible to worry yourself sick! Have you ever done that! I certainly have!
It really comes down to our stress response.
The Stress Response
When we experience any type of stress, physical or emotional, our bodies will respond in the same way. The stress response kicks in. Chemical messengers are released. These are designed to make changes in the body to give you maximum chance of survival. It goes back to the dawn of mankind – a really primitive automatic response to try to keep you alive when under threat.
A new view of pain
It is now known that the stress response can go a little haywire. It can basically be pushed into overdrive. In certain circumstances the stress response can become internalised – in the body’s complex, multi-layered nervous system. When this happens, the result can be felt as physical pain.
The Pain Recovery Model
We are working with a wonderfully experienced physiotherapist – Glyn Smyth. Glyn has studied the work of the leading pain specialist, Dr John Sarno. He works with sufferers of chronic pain to reprogramme their “maladapted protective/ stress response”
In Glyn’s own words “ Having trained as a SIRPA Practitioner, I understand the emotional causes of pain and I now help people using a mind-body approach. Combining this with my physiotherapy skills (and understanding of the structural causes of pain) allows me to treat people holistically – helping them to reduce their pain and return to activity.”
What are we doing now?
At the moment we are working with Glyn to see what the impact of the Pain recovery Model will be upon our client group. We have a lot of referred clients who live with chronic pain and the idea that we could help people to be rid of pain is wonderful.
The trial has just started and will run for 6 months. We’ll keep you posted as to how it is going and any initial results that we get.
If you are living with chronic pain and want to know more about the pain recovery model, then please email firstname.lastname@example.org. Also email if you would be interested in taking part in trial.
Phoenix Health & Wellbeing is a Charity and social enterprise. We use the proceeds of your treatment to subsidise those who would not otherwise be able to access our therapies. Roughly £4 to every £10 spent with us will go to help others.
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