Pain, what is it?
First of all, I’m not a Doctor, I can only speak of my experience and what I’ve learnt. If you are in pain, in particular a chronic pain that won’t go away, then please seek the correct medical advice from a doctor.
Secondly, I am an advocate of an holistic approach to pain management. This doesn’t mean I don’t take my medication, the pills and infusions I am prescribed help me to survive. But sometimes, a little knowledge of holistic pain management can get me through those difficult times when I know I can’t take any more pills.
So, what is pain? We all know that if something hurts then it is pain. It can be a headache, toothache, back ache, even a stubbed toe or cut finger. It’s your bodies response to something that is ailing it.
Pain is triggered by the brain, so even though it’s very real, it wouldn’t be felt if it wasn’t for your brain. Our body, mind and what we can physically do are all connected, taking a biopsychosocial approach to pain can be benificial to anyone suffering from chronic pain. (bio – body, psycho – mind, social -physical.)
Chronic Pain and Dealing with it
Chronic pain is a pain that has lasted for more than a few months. It may have started with an injury, or just appeared out of nowhere. It can even begin with a shock or trauma that’s not actually physical. But, it’s very real and can disrupt your life enormously. Learning ways of dealing with it and coping with life are important if you want any quality of life after suffering chronic pain.
The worst thing about suffering chronic pain is the lack of understanding, by others and even Doctors. I was lucky that I had an understanding doctor. At first I was told that I would recover in about two to three months, so when I went to see my doctor six months later, I thought he wouldn’t beleive that I was still suffering. But he did, and he arranged more tests and I eventually received a different diagnosis. I say I was lucky, because I have heard of so many people who have suffered for years and years before their doctors have believed that their suffering was real.
Dealing with chronic pain is the next step and this is also difficult. Having a diagnosis does not always mean there is a magic cure. I have actually felt jealous of people who’s suffering has been ended by traumatic operations or treatment. How crazy is that? But, it’s not crazy, not when the pain is constant, day after day, month after month, year after year. Who wouldn’t wish for an instant cure, no matter how drastic. Even then, it’s not always a guarantee that the pain will be gone forever.
So, it’s always good to have an holistic approach to hand, some way of dealing with the day to day of chronic pain. Some way you can help yourself without having to change drugs or have operations or try new treatments.
Once you have realised that the body is all connected and that the mind can have a big impact on your mental and physical health then it’s obivious where to begin to help healing. Work on your mind!
There will always be those that this approach doesn’t work, but I am a strong believer that the mind is stronger than the body and I’ve used a lot of mind techniques which have kept me out of A&E.
So, what are these mind techniques? Some people find them easy, others not so. The best way to start is to understand your pain and find your own way of dealing with it.
Can you be relieved of chronic pain? It is possible, but not for all people. I’ve tried many techniques but the pain still continues. But, I have learnt how to manage a lot of my pain and it has made a huge difference in my life.
I think I may have had more success if my pain had a source, a reason, a specific medical infliction. My Consultant has told me that my pain can only be managed, but still I look for a cure. I’ve tried many of the drugs, the only other treatments are not readily available and not proven to have any affect. Do I really want to go through agressive treatment when I don’t even know if it would work?
Things That You Can Do for Chronic Pain
I think first you need to understand pain. As I stated in my first paragraph, it’s caused by brain signals to the afflicted part of the body.
Second, you need to find ways of taking control of those brain signals.
Finally, you need to have some faith in yourself.
Simple things like mindfulness and meditation can help. So can breathing exercises. If you practice these regularly they can improve your overall wellbeing but also help you connect with your brain signals.
The first year that I was sick I was asked to take part in a self awareness study and by simple weekly tasks I learnt a lot about myself and in particular how to take time out and focus on my own wellbeing. I made a lot of progress in that first year, from being paralysed to being able to walk a little. Now, it was helped a lot by my drugs and physio therapy from the hospital, but I honestly believe that I helped myself too.
The second year I went downhill when I had a new diagnosis which meant that my illness was progressive. Up until then I’d believed I was going to get better. This made me suddenly feel so much worse. I’d convinced myself that the progression was happening quickly.
Now, three years on, I know I am progressing. But I am dealing with it in my way. At first, any kind of huge spasm that stopped me from being able to breathe properly had me getting someone calling an ambulance. Now, I tell myself it’s ok, I do my breathing exercises. I stay calm and believe that it will subside, and it does.
Stress plays a big factor in my illness, if I get stressed in any way my body responds by going stiff and giving me a huge spasm. Now, if I feel myself getting stressed I go somewhere quiet (if possible) and practice my breathing exercises and just calm myself.
Sometimes I just need to sleep. I don’t want to, life is way to busy for me to take naps whenever I feel like it. But, if my body is saying sleep, I can’t ignore it. Sleep is what I have to do.
That’s My Story, What About You?
These things have not happened over night for me. I’ve learned how to control my pain and my reactions to it. I’m still a chronic pain sufferer and it affects me daily, but I will keep trying to defeat this illness, I don’t want to let it win. And that’s the big factor, you have to believe you can beat it.
As I said before, I did a self awareness course first. This gave me a basic knowledge of myself and how I tick. It involved a lot of guided meditations and mindfulness techniques. I found the things that made me feel better and those that made me feel worse.
Learning about the mind and how it controls your pain is a big step forward, once you understand this you can start to progress along a healing path. I’ve studied this a lot. My understanding has helped me so much but I know I still have much to learn.
This is why I have now started using the Pathways Pain Relief App. Right here on my mobile phone I can access all sorts of help when the pain becomes too much. But more than that I can learn a lot more about pain and how you can control it before it controls me.
The Pathways Pain Relief app, has a goal to relieve at least 1 million people of pain. That’s a big target, but I believe they can do better than that. The app itself is easy to use, and contains much more information and techniques that I’ve ever seen before. It isn’t free, but they do offer a money back guarantee if they don’t cure your pain…now that’s faith!
Disclosure: This post is all my own work, but I was asked to mention Pathways. I am a user of Pathways app. and this is my honest opinion of it.