5 ways to transcend chronic pain

Pain can be categorised in many different ways but two main categories are acute pain (heals within expectations of tissue healing) and chronic pain (pain persisting beyond expected tissue healing time frames).

Chronic pain can be a little more complex to treat and frustrating for the person experiencing it. These following tips may help on the journey to transcending persistent pain.

1. Understand pain

pain is misunderstood by many. It is not bad. It’s actually really helpful in protecting the body and sending messages that something needs to be addressed. There are lots of amazing resources to get a better understanding of pain. Such as this 5 mintue youtube clip https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C_3phB93rvI ..Or anything written by David Butler or Lorimer Mosley. You may be surprised to learn that pain 100% comes from the brain and nervous system so it can be quite empowering when you realise that just because it hurts – does not mean that you’re further damaging the structure underneath.

2. Know your beliefs

What is your current belief around pain? How do you feel about your body and its capacity to heal? Do you think you are doomed to have back pain because of a genetic predisposition? Or do you think of your body as; strong, adaptable, vital, intelligent, miraculous, a integrated whole made up of 37 trillion cells with a natural propensity towards healing. Our thoughts and the mind are powerful things – just look at all the research on the placebo effect to see this. Some think of the placebo effect as trickery but really it shows the power and influence the mind has on the whole system. Watch this documentary to hear the latest on mind body medicine from experts around the world (https://theconnection.tv). Try some spring cleaning on your limiting beliefs. See the table below for ideas.

Table 1.
Relationship to your body

Old New
Beliefs/Perceptions Broken, old, weak, degenerated, pre determined by genetics, separate, should be…. Strong, adaptable, healing potential, vitality, longevity, brilliance/complexity, gifts life, intelligent, governed by the mind, miraculous
Feelings towards Anger, fearful, frustrated, powerlessness, distrust, hopelessness, sadness Connected to, in awe of, grateful for, appreciation, love
Behaviours towards Avoidance, protective, abusive, mistreatment, recklessness, not valuing Considerate, respectful, nurturing

3. Get the right help

There are a lot of practitioners out there Physiotherapist, Chiropractors, Osteopaths, Myotherapist, Pain Specialist, Reiki healers, kinesiologist… the list goes on and on.

Who should you see? There is unfortunately not one size fits all and you will need to do your own research to find the best fit for you.

However a few pointers: find a clinician that ….
* takes the time to listen to your story
* looks at the bigger picture – beyond just your painful area
* assesses you thoroughly
* considers both current science and uses clinical wisdom
* integrates movement/exercise and/or self care strategies
* gives you a plan on treatment with expected prognosis and outcomes.

4. Act – “fix me” V’s empowered

Avoid falling into a passive therapist/ patient scenario take an active role in your recovery and where appropriate expect to have home work/exercises to practice in between sessions. This is crucial as you play a key role in reprogramming the mind & body.

5. Focus on meaningful function not “getting rid of.. or chasing pain”

For example if you get you’re pain when you sit at your desk. If we are mainly considering the physical – what is your squat technique like (as this is the movement you do to get into sitting). Does it feel free, easy and balanced with your squat or do you feel twisted, blocked or a lack of flow in the body. When you are assisted to move in a more optimal way does it change your pain or feeling of ease in your body?

What can you do within your body to optimise this? Improve the range of movement in you hips, ankle or knees? Improve strength in your glutes or deep trunk muscles?

Rather than expecting the area to hurt or trying to avoid any discomfort think – can I move in a more optimal/balanced way that will unload my problem area.

Sometimes our body’s can seem complicated and confusing and everyone’s journey will be slightly different. Be open to learning from your body and consider pain as a message from your body that something needs addressing rather than the problem itself.

Johanna Cornish

 Senior Physio & Pilates Manager
ConnectTherapy ™ Certified Practitioner
Polestar Pilates Mentor
Yoga Teacher (RYT 200)
Special Interest In Complex & Chronic Pain