Why should GPs understand pain?
~ Do you understand pain?
Can you confidently answer these questions:
- what is pain?
- what do we currently know about the causes of pain?
- what can the person in pain do to overcome their pain?
Pain is one of the commonest reasons to seek help. And we are not only talking about back pain or neck pain, instead thinking about all the circumstances and conditions that feature pain. Digging deeper, whilst the pain is unpleasant by its very nature, it is the suffering that drives the act of going to the doctor. We can even take this a stage further and suggest that the causes of suffering result in consulting with the GP. For example, the person who cannot work, cannot play with their children, cannot play sports etc. It appears as if life’s choices have disappeared. By definition, suffering refers to the loss of sense of self, and indeed the person with persistent or chronic pain can feel such loss.
The existing understanding of pain has taken us a long way away from the biomedical model. The biopsychosocial model has gained some traction but the predominant approach continues to be driven by the search for an injury, a pathology or a structural explanation. For many years it has been known that pain and injury are not synonymous ~ the famous paper by Pat Wall was published in 1979:
“The period after injury is divided into the immediate, acute and chronic stages. In each stage it is shown that pain has only a weak connection to injury but a strong connection to the body state.”
Pain features when we are in a state of protect in the face of a perceived threat. The intensity of the pain relates to this state and not to the extent of tissue damage. Pain and injury are fundamentally different and hence any explanation or treatment for pain based upon the thinking that a ‘structure’ or biomechanics is to blame is at odds with our understanding of pain. In fact, it is this misunderstanding that contributes significantly to chronic pain being the number one global health burden. This can and must change, which is the raison d’être for UP | understand pain.
~ understand pain to change pain
This being the case, this workshop will be a brief look at this enormous societal issue, a public health concern of vast importance considering the massive costs and immeasurable suffering. Not only will we review current thinking and understanding, we will consider the role of the GP and practices that can be readily used.
- understand pain yourself
- know your role
- how can you help the person understand their pain?
- setting the person on the right course: what is their vision of success?
- practices you can choose to use in clinic
This overview is based on the Pain Coach Programme. The programme delivers results for people who make the decision to commit to practices that bring about change in a desired direction. They understand that we are designed to change and that we have great potential to be harnessed and used to overcome pain and live a meaningful life.
1:1 Pain Coach Mentoring: for clinicians who choose to pursue understanding pain to a greater level together with the practice of Pain Coaching.