Pain is the most common reason why people seek medical help. Within the healthcare system, pain remains a challenge to treat and still to this day is one of the most misunderstood areas in the literature.
What is it?
Pain is an unpleasant emotional and sensory experience associated with potential tissue damage. It is one of the bodies inbuilt alarm systems that make us aware that something has changed leading to a series of adverse events.
People associate pain with physical damage but it can also be influenced by one’s beliefs, emotions, personality and social influences. It can directly drive one’s behaviour, be quite debilitating and negatively impact a person’s health.
What do we know about pain already?
- Doesn’t necessarily indicate tissue damage.
- It is a protective system for the body.
- Is a subjective perception resulting from the processing of all information indicating that the tissue is under threat.
- Pain is a real experience.
There is no quick fix for persistent pain. Recovery can be prolonged and challenging with many bumps along the way. It requires active participation, being open-minded and having the willingness to start making a change to your beliefs, routines and mindset.
Components that influence the bodies pain response:
- Psychological beliefs of pain.
- Nutrition and diet Sleep hygiene.
- Stress and anxiety.
- Physical activity levels.
- Movement patterns and fear of movement.
How can we help as physiotherapists?
- Identifying factors that could heighten an individuals pain response.
- Setting individualised goals that are realistic to achieve. Through continued education and challenging thoughts and beliefs about what pain actually is.
- Incorporating a graded exercise program to address and correct movement or positions that might be influencing the pain response.