When we bump our toes into the edge of a bed, burned our tongue with a hot coffee, slept in an awkward position or lifted far too heavy weights at the gym, we feel this unpleasant emotive sensation we call pain. As humans, we have evolved to experience this feeling as a survival mechanism in the face of actual or perceived threat to urge us to do something about it and keep away from “danger”. That may mean reflexively moving away from harm, immediately spitting out that hot drink, protect and try not to move a body part so it can heal, and ultimately, learn from that experience and not do it again. As the injured tissue heals in a few weeks, pain diminishes until everything goes back to normal. This is what we call acute pain.

However, there are some instances when people experience persistent pain for months or even years on end. Many would have tried all sorts of treatment, and nothing seems to alleviate their symptoms. X-rays, ultrasounds, MRIs of their body reveal inconclusive results and worst, they would be dismissed as an attention seeker or “it’s all in their head”.

                That is what we call chronic pain. It is pain that still persists for more than 12 weeks, in the absence of actual tissue damage or long after the body’s tissues have healed. In these cases, the pain we experience has more to do with changes in our nervous system on how it processes and interprets pain signals rather than being related to an actual injury. That is why a lot of people don’t get better or only get temporary symptomatic relief after several treatments targeting the painful body structures.

back pain total body

For somebody who had also experienced debilitating chronic pain, the feeling of frustration and despair is all too familiar. It was what inspired me to become an osteopath in the first place- to help people take control back from pain and get on with their lives.

One of the osteopathic tenets states that a person is a unity of mind, body, and spirit. This concept is very helpful in treating chronic pain patients as it seeks to see the person as a whole, not just a mere back, or neck, or ankle that needs fixing. It is very much in line with the biopsychosocial approach that is recommended by several health guidelines for the treatment of chronic pain, including the World Health Organization.

                Osteopaths can do more than treat the body’s structures that cause pain. Osteopaths can help you:

  • Identify areas in your life that may be contributing to your experience of pain. -stressors, unhealthy habits, misconceptions, and disinformation, etc. 
  • Develop a pain management plan and strategies to implement it in your daily life. – this may include mindfulness and breathing exercises, structured exercises and functional activities, action plan for pain flare-ups, etc.
  • Identify and facilitate access to other treatment modalities that may help you in managing your pain. – GP, counselling/ cognitive behavioural therapy, exercise classes, pain specialists, etc.

The success of chronic pain management relies heavily on the patient’s active participation in their recovery. It may not be easy, it can be overwhelming, but that desire to change and the willingness to take full control of your health is already a good start. 

So, when you are ready, let us know and we’ll gladly help you in your journey to well-being.

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