What is Chronic Pain?
Pain is an important part of the body's protective system. It's normal. It protects and alerts you
to danger, usually before you have injured yourself or once you have an injury. Pain makes you move
and behave differently and that's important because you need to rest an area to help healing. Your body
protects the part that is injured while it heals.
Acute pain lasts a short time and has a definite cause. Pain that lasts for three months or more is
chronic pain and often there doesn't seem to be an identifiable source. You may have had an injury
some time ago but the pain persists, even though your body has healed. The pain you're still feeling
is not helpful any more.
The science part of pain is really interesting (to me, anyway). Your nerves can become
overly sensitive so that sometimes even light sensation ends up being interpreted as pain. Small movements that
used to cause pain while you had the injury, may still cause pain. The interpretation of
pain by the brain is a complex series of events. A nerve picks up a signal, sends it to
the spinal cord, which decides if it's important enough to send up to the brain and then your brain
assesses the messages from the nerves and interprets them by comparing previous memories of similar
situations. When nerves are too sensitive, they're sending incorrect messages to the brain and your
brain may tell you to experience pain when you no longer need to.
Here's the good news: your brain can be retrained and nerves that were hypersensitive can change too. Your body can also become stronger to give you extra
support. By doing the right exercises to help your body, with the knowledge and understanding of how your body
responds to faulty pain signals and learning how to pace yourself so you work out how much you can do,
without overdoing it, you can learn to cope better, to move better and you learn how to not expect pain
from movements that were previously causing faulty pain signals.
The support that I offer to help you go from experiencing chronic pain to becoming stronger and more
able to cope, includes video consultations, email support and phone calls, as you need them. Your video
appointment will help me to assess and ask questions so I can get a clear idea of the difficulties you are
having with pain and movement. After your video appointment, I will email you a treatment plan that includes exercises and
information about the science behind how pain works and how to work out your average activity level. You will
also get some relaxing techniques to use to help you cope with anxiety because change is hard work. You'll be
asking your body and brain to change the way they react. It's quite normal to feel
anxious when you're making changes, so learning new ways to relax and feel calm or using techniques
that you already know, can really help.
You'll be encouraged to slowly become more active. Understanding that pain isn't always a signal to stop,
should help improve your confidence to move and to use the area that causes pain. The treatment plan allows
you to progress with the exercises and increase your level of activity. The level you are at is always under
How much support you will need will depend on each individual. It may take about six to seven weeks before you
feel you are making progress. I would suggest an initial week of a video appointment plus seven days of email
support and then one week where you try to follow the treatment plan on your own (although if you want an
additional week of email/video support, you can have this). You may find it helpful, once you've had your first
week of support, to have a further week of support every two weeks. In total, it may
take about six or seven weeks to get used to the changes and to feel like you have made real progress towards
changing how your body responds.
I had a period of chronic pain, which was a combination of muscle weakness and an injury. By slowly increasing
the amount of exercises I did and challenging my thinking on pain, I was able to eventually decrease the pain until
now I very seldom have any and when I do, I know exactly what to do to alleviate it. It took time and I
had to learn to be patient and kind to myself.
What I noticed more of in the health service, among doctors and physios, was a tendency to expect
physical pain that couldn't be linked to a current injury, to be stress related. When I asked for help from doctors,
I kept being asked if I was anxious or if I had recently had a stressful event. While stress may sometimes
influence how our brain interprets certain physical movements, it's more than just being stressed or anxious and
needing to meditate, do yoga or be mindful (some of the solutions suggested to me by doctors). I am confident
the support that I offer can help because it's based on research and evidence. Learning how your body responds to pain,
together with a practical approach to slowly building up your strength and movement, as well as learning to relax
(because being in pain and making changes are both stressful), is a good way to relieve at least some of the pain you
are currently experiencing. Change takes time, so it may take you longer than six or seven weeks, but you will be
doing as much of it on your own or with my support, as you feel necessary.
The Bodywork Studio used to be located on Upper Street,
Islington in London, but now support is online so I can be where you are.
For the video call, I am very flexible with hours. We can schedule it when it suits you. If you need to put your kids to bed first,
later in the evening is fine. If you are in a different time zone, we can arrange a time that works for you.
If you've paid for a week of support and scheduled a video call, but need to reschedule your call, please give me
as much notice as you can so I can offer the time to another client. If you have paid for a video call and you miss it
without giving me prior notice, I will try to provide whatever email support
I am able to for the rest of the seven days, but I may not be able to schedule a video call.