Everybody can benefit from learning how pain works and how your body reacts to it. Amazing things can be achieved by having the knowledge and understanding of what it is that can affect the pain you are going through! With this understanding you can then approach your pain differently, often reducing pain levels, improving mobility, function and reaching activity goals.
We all experience pain, it is a useful thing to warn us of danger and to let us know not to do something, when it works as it is meant to, it’s a live saver! But things can go wrong and persistent pain or episodic pain even after the injury has recovered, can be debilitating.
Even if your current pain is new or short lived, learning about pain and your body’s response to it, will help you during any future episodes of pain or anxiety of it, in order to reduce the ‘volume’ of pain, and to know how to act on it. With a current episode of on-going pain; learning ways to alter how you react and respond to it can have an enormous impact on the severity and duration of pain you experience; giving you more control and less anxiety. Reassurance as to what is causing your pain, and knowing more about what you can do to help yourself to get back to functioning in a happier state of mind, is massively empowering to all.
Types of pain and the impact of Pain education
A range of patients I’ve seen benefit from pain education, which is delivered in a caring and empathetic way, one on one. Patients who benefit ranges from having suffered with pain for days to months or years. In the ‘acute’ cases; reassurance as to what the cause of pain is, understanding what to expect, what they can do now, and how to go forward as the tissue injury heals up, as well as knowing what to do if the pain lingers for longer than the tissues take to recover, is hugely beneficial as part of their care. For those who have suffered pain for months or years, a slightly different approach may be required with more in depth learning and training sessions to help patients move forward to where they want to be. This is where pain education and science really comes into its own for making sometimes dramatic differences to peoples lives; on occasion, extremely rapidly, though more regularly; over time (from a few weeks to months or longer), with expert encouragement and guidance, the revisiting of ideas, recapping and simple rewarding exercises working towards patient goals, while giving the patient tools for self-efficacy to go forward with a plan and work toward their goals in movement and day-day tasks or sporting activities for the long term future.
What does Pain Education do to help?
The ultimate aim of delivering pain education is for patients to have no need of a regular or heavy reliance on a therapy or treatment to ‘change something that is wrong with the body’, or to ‘fix the body’, ‘correct misalignments’ etc; all of which cannot affect any long term changes, and ultimately the body’s structure does not need to be changed, and cannot be structurally altered by anybody for any length of time using hands on techniques, unless you apply so much force as to break something – structural change but an undesirable one! The most dramatic and long-term changes to pain in your body, ultimately comes down to you and the actions you take in mind and body.
Why does pain linger and how do you know it is safe to move?
After any injury, the tissues should heal and pain should not linger- often pain subsides shortly after injury, even while tissues are healing! This of course varies and depends to the type of injury, but the initial pain acts as a protective guard to stop you using the part that has damage, giving your body a chance to heal up. This ranges depending on the injury, but pain from any injury should not linger more than weeks and months… and things should not hurt after no injury, or following a ‘normal activity’ – this indicates that pain education- after initial screening, could be extremely useful to you…
There are exceptions to this, and at your first appointment, you will be screened for any underlying possible ‘red flags’ that would need referral and further investigations. If we see that you are ‘safe’ to continue with sessions, then we will start to go over exactly what has happened, your health and pain history, how you’ve been dealt with, what you’ve been told or self researched, what helps, what doesn’t and any thoughts or feelings you have towards what is going on with the symptoms and your body. The longer pain lasts for, the more appropriate and important pain education is for you. We all know that pain hurts, but sometimes, when it goes on for longer or causes a greater reaction than is ‘necessary’ or appropriate, pain science and education sessions can really help you to understand what has happened to the body and why you feel the way you do, giving appropriate tools to help you for the longer term without relying on something to ‘fix’ you. We then move on to working together to come up with a plan, usually involving simple, rewarding exercises and practices to help you work towards your goal; whether your goal is to stand long enough to make a carbonara, picking up your child or grandchild. Driving to get to work, being able to get a comfortable night’s sleep or getting back to gardening and tennis! All the while reviewing progress, checking your thoughts and feelings about your body and pain, and moving forward together to make the right choices for the best outcome.
For further information on pain education sessions with Michelle please contact!
News and articles by Michelle Hancock M.Ost