Do you suffer from long term ‘chronic’ pain?  Does it impact your life?  You are not alone.

Chronic pain is very common.  Over a third of the UK population has chronic pain.  

But there is help for you.

Modern pain science (thanks to brain scans) has learnt a huge amount about why we have pain.  And its not the reason we always thought it was.  The brain chooses when to have pain.  Pain has a function; and that is to warn us of danger.  It may be danger that we are injured, or it may be that we have a manager that we don’t trust and so our job does not feel safe.  

Pain is pure and simply a danger signal.  If your body perceives no danger you will not get pain, if it does you will.  Pain originates from the same part of the brain as emotions.  Pain is a feeling, just as anger or fear are feelings.  If you suppress anger or fear, because society doesn’t let us express them, at some point we will get pain instead. 

Current stresses or past (often childhood) stresses are proven to be a cause of chronic pain.  Where it gets complicated, to see a cause for pain, is where the past has taught your body to expect danger from something that is normally benign.  If you expose your body to that on a frequent basis it will end up in a pain cycle.  If you force it to keep going back to that job that doesn’t feel safe, day after day, it will find a reason to stop you going.  You will fall ill, give you pain, make you too exhausted.  Your body doesn’t know you need money to pay the bills, all it knows it that this place does not feel safe.  Our body is designed to keep us away from what doesn’t feel safe at all costs.

Conditions known to be related to stress include:

Back/neck pain, joint pain, arthritic pain, tendonitis, neuralgia, headaches, migraines, complex regional pain syndrome, repetitive strain, food intolerances, frequent infections, shortness of breath, non cardiac related chest pain, heartburn, IBS, interstitial cystitis, pelvic pain, genital pain, tinnitus, dizziness, POTS, Bell’s palsy, other medically unexplained symptoms.  

There are more known conditions than listed here.  It is always important that all symptoms are medically investigated so any organic disease process is identified.  

The good news is there are characteristics that indicate stress related pain:

Pain originated without injury or persisted past healing time

Pain came on during period of stress

Pain is episodic of no known reason i.e. same pain happens several times a year

Pain moves around or spreads

History or wide range of symptoms: such as headache, back pain and IBS

History of trauma especially in childhood

Personality traits such as people pleaser or perfectionist

None of these are definate conformation of stress related pain, which is why it’s important to seek professional help.  A strong indicator is having been fully investigated by doctors and had pathology ruled out and/or  having sought help from multiple therapies.

Research has shown there are characteristics that accurately predict who will develop chronic pain.  These are related to a sense of control in our life, a sense of hope, our beliefs and perceptions, our past experiences and our personality traits.

The even better news is there are also proven things you can do to help.

I have completed the training with SIRPA; which is a UK based organisation dedicated to helping people with chronic pain.  Therapists who do SIRPA work included Osteopaths (like me) but also physiotherapists, psychotherapists, health coaches and General Practitioners (Private and NHS).

The training taught me to guide people through how to identify the triggers for their pain.  Whether in the past or present.  Making those connections is sometimes enough for some people to resolve their pain.  For others it takes longer.  Everyone is an individual.   Some people manage this work alone with a book, others need/want support. 

I would teach you different skills.  Some to help you work through your emotions.  Some to calm your nervous system.  Some to change habits and thought processes.  These are skills for life that we all need.  Learning them has helped me and I use them frequently.  

Osteopathic treatment can also help with calming the nervous system and releasing the tension in muscles.  The treatment will help relieve the pain in the short term and the learnt skills will help stop it coming back.

If you wish to learn more this is SIRPA’s website.  There are many success stories on here of how people have healed and got pain free and got their lives back.  The TED talk at the start of this blog is by Georgie, the founder of SIRPA.

Also an easy book to start learning about how pain works is Alan Gordons ‘The Way Out’.  He is very eloquent and its an easy read, with some good case studies and testimonials.  It takes some time to start changing how you understand pain, but its worth it.  Pain then loses its sting of fear.

If you wish to talk to me about how I can help please send me an email.

Don’t suffer alone.