WHAT IS CHRONIC PAIN?
At Lime we have Physios who have vast experience in dealing with Chronic Pain (pain that persists for at least three months).
It is thought that at least 1 in 5 Australians experiences Chronic Pain - where even though they have seemingly recovered from an injury or illness, the pain remains.
Chronic pain is complex because it involves the central and peripheral nervous systems, made up of the brain and spinal cord and may not be easy to treat, especially with analgesia alone.
Pain can become chronic due to changes to the nerves or nervous system which keeps firing and signalling pain. These changes can be unrelated to the original diagnosis or injury. Pain levels can be intense and unrelenting as well as lead to various degrees of disability if not managed well.
Chronic pain may not be warning you of damage occurring in the body as there is no longer a direct link between pain and harm being caused by the (preceding) injury.
ASSESSING CHRONIC PAIN
It is widely accepted in the medical/ health professions that treating Chronic Pain should be holistic, involving all aspects of the client’s life. A Biopsychosocial model of assessment and management is now used and basically means that three aspects should be considered to provide good health care:
- a) Bio – biological: the physical body should be assessed for changes or injury,
- b) Psycho – psychological: the aspects of anxiety and stress should be addressed,
- c) Social – aspects of the social situation and home/ work environment should be considered.
These three aspects will have a bearing upon your pain experience although is not possible to determine how much of each is contributing to the chronic levels of pain.
A holistic approach usually involves a team of health professionals (doctor, physiotherapist, psychologist, social worker, etc). They will assess you and advise you on the best course of action, including education and graded physical activity.
MANAGING CHRONIC PAIN
One of the most common areas of pain management is physical activity.
Movement gives the nervous system and brain feedback about the body and the environment around us; it helps to normalise the nervous system. Chemicals released during exercise will also help to reduce your sensitivity to pain.
In the early stages, people often want change to happen quickly, however; this can result in pain flare-ups. A more gradual systematic approach is required with small increments of activity.
Seeing a Physiotherapist to improve your tolerance to exercise as well as decrease pain severity may be a good way to start. Our fully qualified Physiotherapists can assist you on grading and pacing your physical activity to recondition your muscles and joints and assist you with persistent pain through many exercise modalities:
- Clinical Pilates
- Exercise Based Rehabilitation
- Hands on Physiotherapy
It therefore takes time, practise and patience for people to learn and effectively implement new strategies. Learning to deal effectively with flare-ups of pain is an important part of the management process.
Some of the most common chronic pain conditions include:
- Back pain
- Ankle and foot pain
- Chemotherapy-induced pain
- Cluster headaches
- Complex regional syndrome
- Frozen shoulder
- Joint pain
- Neuropathic pain
- Radicular pain
- Trigeminal neuralgia
- Tennis elbow
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