Understanding Pain in less than 5 minutes, and what to do about it!
Firstly we take some time to explain pain physiology to out patients. Many adults fear pain and this adds stress to them. Pain is actually very important for survival.
Imagine if you did not feel pain when you stood on a sharp stone or burned your hand cooking! You would end up very badly injured.
Our understanding of pain mechanisms and how our brains process pain had changed hugely with advances in science. We find that once patients understand how their bodies sense and process pain stimuli they have less fear of it.
Please take some time to watch the videos on this page which explain how our bodies [actually our brains!] produce pain.
Our aims of physiotherapy will be to enable the patient to return to normal activity levels. We do this by grading activities such as walking and goal setting e.g start walking 1km per day and aim [goal] to get walking 5km a day in an agreed time frame.
Finding a starting point or baseline from which to progress can take some time with chronic pain patients . This is because of “central sensitization” which needs to be understood and gradually overcome . However once the patient and physiotherapist have agreed on this, the pain/brain retraining commences. Technology such as “Fit bits” and “UP by Jawbone” can be useful for monitoring activity levels.
It is important to learn relaxation techniques so that muscles get to rest and recover. We teach breathing exercises to correct faulty breathing habits. Our chartered physiotherapists will also teach correct postural alignment .
Good sleep habits are important. 30 minutes aerobic exercise during the day will help facilitate sleep. We advise against heavy meals before bed. Alcohol and caffeine are stimulants and to be avoided in the evenings. Screen use should stop 2 hours before bedtime. Relaxing music , hot milk and aromatherapy can all help create a calm feeling before sleep.
T.E.N.S. or Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation is a small portable electrical device that is used for the treatment of pain.It can be rented or bought [ for less than €100]. It has small self adhesive surface electrodes which are placed around the painful area and connected by wires to the device. The patient feels a tingly/buzzy sensation when the current is turned on. It needs to stay on for a least 15 minutes and can be left on much longer.This masks the patients pain and gives pain relief during and after the treatment.
Exercise for chronic pain
Exercise is a very important part of pain management. It helps with general fitness keeping heart , lungs and bones healthy. It helps manage depression. Exercise causes endorphin release- endorphins are the bodies natural painkillers. Physiotherapy will aim to get the correct exercise regime for the individual patient to get the endorphin “dose” right.
TEDxAdelaide – Lorimer Moseley – Why Things Hurt
Why do we hurt?
Do we actually experience pain, or is it merely illusion?
In the above video, Lorimer Moseley explores these questions, and position the pain that we feel as our bodies’ way of protecting us from damaging tissues further. He also looks at what this might mean for those who suffer from chronic pain.