The continuum between acute and chronic pain is an area Osteopaths work in on a daily basis, either helping patients with more acute/subacute injuries rehabilitate and recover or in helping those with chronic complaints alleviate or manage their symptoms.
This involves active involvement from our patients to identify triggers and formulate an action plan to take control of their symptoms. This often includes pain modulation through approaches other than hands-on treatment, such as exercise, dietary changes (e.g. increasing water intake), lifestyle changes (e.g. reducing stress levels), improving sleep quality and most importantly-patient education regarding pain science. Without this, the sensation of pain remains a scary, mis-understood and often anxiety-causing experience which leads to negative pain behaviours, such as catastrophising and hypervigilance, both of which contribute to heightened sensitivity. Whilst explaining to patients 'Pain is in the brain' is an important part of our management, this message is easily misinterpreted as 'It's all in your head' and consequently de-valuing their experience of their symptoms. Not understanding the reasoning behind this message or advice given negatively impacts adherence rates, for example the role of stress and anxiety in pain modulation and therefore the recommendation of mindfulness, meditation, breathing exercises etc.
Pain-science education is therefor key to preventing subacute injuries becoming persistent pain states and in reducing the chronicity of musculoskeletal complaints. The information in this blog signposts useful resources for better understanding the processes behind pain as well as management advice to try out.
Knowledge is power so arm yourself with evidenced strategies to intercept the pain cycle in a flare up! Continue reading for my top 5 resources I recommend to patients to further their understanding of their, or their loved ones' pain experience.
If you would like to know more about pain science or persistent pain management get in touch to have a chat with one of our Osteopaths!
1. Below are 3 short and easy to follow videos explaining the relationship between chronic pain and the nervous system:
2. Below are infographics from Curable explaining the pathway of persistent pain and its link with stress.
Click https://www.curablehealth.com/ for more useful resources and details about the Curable App designed to help persistent-pain sufferers!
3. Mini 1 minute lessons into specific elements of persistent pain which can be found at https://www.retrainpain.org/ See below for a snapshot of topics!
4. Workshops, webinars, resources and 'pain tool' videos specific to persistent pain management from https://www.paintoolkit.org/. A one-stop-shop for lots of useful tips!
5. An interactive '10 Footsteps' exercise from Live Well with Pain and Durham University. I often recommend patients do this with a loved one or carer to develop a support system around their steps to self-management.
Explore the resources and empower yourself with knowledge! Your brain is capable of far more than just generating pain sensation, use it to keep your symptoms in check!
Good luck and keep with it!