Chronic pain can not usually be cured. But with the right help, there are good odds you can learn to manage this pain and minimize its impact on your life.
Pain has a dramatic influences on life.
People are often stigmatised … lose their jobs, suffer family breakdown and end up watching in bewilderment as their lives fall apart. Some even reach the point of suicide.
However it does not have to be this way.
What is chronic pain?
Pain is a normal and healthy part of life. Acute pain is our body’s warning system, telling us to take our hand off a burning surface or to go to the doctor to make sure it is not a symptom of underlying disease.
But chronic pain is a different matter. Usually defined as pain that persists for three months or more, it is often triggered by an episode of acute pain such as that caused by an injury or surgery but persists long after the original tissue damage has healed.
Chronic pain is a result of abnormal functioning within the body’s pain system.
A staggering one in five Australians of working age lives with chronic pain, at an estimated cost to the economy of $34 billion a year. Although persistent pain can be associated with an ongoing condition, such as cancer or rheumatoid arthritis, in most cases there is no obvious physical cause.
Often patients end up going from one specialist to another in the futile search for a solution.
Chronic pain is now known to be a pain system disease in its own right with its own causes, mechanisms and treatments rather than a symptom of something else.
Neuroplasticity …..All in the brain Our brains and nervous system are flexible and maleable. New connections develop in response to new experiences and challenges.
Not all new pathways are helpful. Some new pathways formed after an injury or other trauma can communicate pain. And, if an episode of acute pain is not adequately managed, those new connections may never switch off, continuing to transmit the pain message even after the original injury has healed.
New imaging technologies allow us for the first time to see the anatomical changes that take place inside the brain during this kind of rewiring.
A multidisciplinary approach Learning to manage pain can be facilitated by a multidisciplinary approach. Doctors working with specially-trained physiotherapists, occupational therapists and clinical psychologists together address the physical, psychological and environmental aspects of pain.
This is effective for 80% of patients and a key factor to the success is the patient’s willingness to embrace the pain-brain link.
Similarly, exercise to address postural problems and to strengthen muscles that have become weak through reduced activity is vital.
Creating new beneficial brain pain pathways is enhanced by incorporating meditation into a daily routine.
What you can do?
1. Keep active.
It is also important to resume normal activities as much as possible. “The more inactivity, the more pain.
2. Accept that pain is not going to be cured and focus on management rather than a fruitless energy sapping search for a non-existent miracle cure.
3. Explore non drug methods to reduce pain.
Options include acupuncture, hypnosis, relaxation techniques and meditation.
4. Mindfulness meditation
Mindfulness is about training the brain and mind to remain focused on the present moment ……letting go of worries about the past and fears for the future.
It is a mental state that is chosen consciously. For it to be effective the techniques needs to be practised and this is the essence of our More Than Meditation course.
4. Set realistic goals.
Having pain demands a reevaluation of priorities. If that can be achieved the quality and enjoyment of life is enhanced.