Everyone experiences acute pain at some stage in their life. You can easily hurt your back gardening or sprain your ankle running. Most acute pain settles down very quickly, either by itself or with treatment, and should generally be fully healed within 12 weeks, as the body has an innate capacity to heal. However, some people continue to feel pain long after an injury and begin to suffer from chronic pain.
I regularly treat patients who are needlessly struggling with pain and injuries which significantly affects their quality of life. I just listened to a BBC radio interview with a GP and Osteopath in the UK, who were discussing pain management and the increasing use of painkillers to treat pain. Prescriptions for painkillers such as tramadol and codeine have gone up by 80% in the UK and quadrupled in New Zealand over the last 10 years! These are massive statistics, notwithstanding that the latest research shows that in 80% of cases; these drugs do very little for patients suffering from chronic pain. Hence, one has to ask the question why are so many people suffering from chronic pain??
“The body has an innate capacity to heal”
What Is Chronic Pain?
Chronic pain is very different to acute pain. Pain becomes chronic when the source or cause of the pain has healed, but the brain keeps firing out pain signals, and the patient continues to suffer pain. Technically, chronic pain is diagnosed once 12 weeks have passed since your injury, and you continue to suffer from pain.
Could I End Up Suffering From Chronic Pain?
Every patient suffers pain and injury in a very unique way. Listening to the interview today on pain management, the Osteopath summed it up nicely….”all too often the patient ends up in chronic pain due to a misunderstanding of their injury and lack of knowledge on how to treat it in the first place”.
I personally also believe that your healthcare provider needs to identify and address any potential barriers to healing, during your initial consultation to prevent chronic pain from developing.
Barriers to healing can include:
Injures not treated in a timely manner
Catastrophizing thoughts about pain – (negative thoughts about the injury and the level of pain)
Continued physical stressors on the body
Not treating the underlying cause of the injury
Poor communication on the part of the practitioner!
Other underlying illnesses and poor health
Not enough physical activity
What Can I Do To Prevent Chronic Pain?
If your injury is not healing it is very important to seek prompt medical advice from a healthcare professional, who will diagnose and advise you on the best course of action. Do this in a timely manner, don’t let pain and injuries linger on, in order to prevent the onset of chronic pain.
Remember that ‘pain is an alarm signal that something is not right’.
Make sure to agree on a very clear treatment plan with your healthcare provider.
If needed, take pain medication sparingly, and in accordance with your GP’s instructions.
Always remain positive, the majority of injuries heal very well, and you should always aim to get back to your everyday activities as soon as possible after injury.
‘Life is way too short to let pain interfere with your quality of life!’
And remember….your Osteopath is always here to help! 🙂
Looking for help with your pain or injury? Please do not hesitate to contact Lorraine Herity at Better Health Osteopathy in Christchurch today. Call 027 755 5700 or book online.
Lorraine Herity is the Clinic Director of Better Health Osteopathy in Christchurch, New Zealand. She previously worked in Osteopathic clinics in London and Ireland, before moving to New Zealand. Lorraine trained at the British School of Osteopathy in London, where she gained her Master of Osteopathy (M.Ost). Lorraine is a dedicated and passionate Osteopath. Her main aim is to help her patients regain their health, and to return her patients back to their everyday activities, in as quick a time as possible.