Talking pain ~ video series

Together with Pete of The Pain Toolkit, I have been talking pain. This is a simple way of getting across the key messages about pain in bite-sized videos.

The first chat was based on the 5 question challenge when Pete asked me how I ‘got into pain’, my story in other words, and then what I say to people who are seeking the quick fix, the future of how we will deal with pain and the role of social media. Today we dug down deeper into dispelling the myth of the quick fix as an option.

In brief, overcoming pain is one of life’s challenges. Embracing this as a problem to solve by living one’s best life delivers many possibilities. This turns the traditional thinking, which has not worked (otherwise chronic pain would not be the No1 global health burden), on its head; i.e. we get back to living by living, not waiting for something to happen, or relying on hopes. Instead we follow a route of mastery, creating lasting and positive change, achieving results and maintaining a consistent course towards a desired outcome. This IS the model of success and we can apply this here, in addressing pain.

So, there is no quick fix, instead a route forwards where we fill our lives with the good stuff! We use our natural resources and strengths, and become resourceful. Everything you need is right there, and once you release yourself from the old, limiting beliefs and conditioned thinking (I can’t…I won’t….tomorrow etc etc.), you can start taking steps towards success. Is this a pain-free life? Does it mean being ‘happy’ all the time?

Pain is part of life. The pain you may be feeling has persisted and is not indicative of a tissue issue or pathology in many cases. Instead it is an on-going protect state as more and more contexts and situations generalise as being a threat — even though they are not. We have to actively re-train this, gain control over our mind rather than the mind controlling us, because once we decide to commit to consistent practices that build health, wellness and joy, they shift us into a different state, or chemistry. That is how we overcome pain. The more we focus on treating pain, the worse the outcomes. The more we focus on the person living well, the better the outcomes — for what we focus upon governs how we feel and where we put our energy. What do you want? Where are you going to pout your energy? Into a life full of joy? Or a life full of pain?

It sounds easy when you put it like that! Of course it is a challenge and there are many ups and downs. But you do not have to let that get in the way of you deciding to commit to a new path, one that you follow to gain wins and success in all areas of your life — again, because you decided to. How often do you feel happy, just because you can? Now you can use that as a daily practice!

So, onwards we go, as this is the only direction of travel. We build our ability to change state into that of excitement, determination, joy, love, compassion and all the many other states .We can get into such high energy states by moving, breathing, visualising, connecting and many other simple day to day practices. It merely takes the decision to do so, the development of a routine and practice, or repetitions, just like strengthening a . muscle.

More answered questions to come! You can email us your questions (painphysiolondon@gmail.com) or come to twitter and tweet @painphysio

In the meantime, enjoy!

For more information about the The Pain Coach Programme, click here

Talking pain with Pete

Pain Coach + Pain Toolkit getting together to deliver the RIGHT messages about chronic pain

This is the first of a series of conversations about pain. Pete’s 5 question challenge:

  • how did you get into pain?
  • what about people looking for a quick fix?
  • what questions should patients ask me?
  • is social media useful?
  • what is the future for pain management?

A series of chats coming soon. Enjoy!

UP Workshop in society for society

Richmond Stace ~ Specialist Pain Physiotherapist & Pain Coach
Richmond Stace

On Monday I will be delivering an Understand Pain Workshop in Newport. This is one of the UP social initiatives, whereby when I run a Pain Coach Workshop for clinicians and other professionals, I the run one for the people locally for free. It is a 1 for 1 model.

There are several avenues that I am pursuing to drive social change and a new understanding of pain: The Pain Coach Workshops for clinicians, Understand Pain Workshops for the people in society, and 2 free places for local undergraduates at each Pain Coach Workshop (see some recent comments by a student about the day).

Both the workshops and my clinical work is informed by the latest thinking in pain science and associated fields, delivering the pinnacle of understanding in a practical way. As with any problem, when we understand it, it is no longer a problem but something we must transform using tools that work. As an example, last week I spent 3 days in the company of some of the greatest contemporary thinkers about consciousness and life. Pain is arguably the best example of a conscious experience, and hence understanding this is a key aspect of understanding pain. For those of you who are interested, this included Dan Dennett, Karl Friston, Andy Clark and Anil Seth. In the room though, were many brilliant brains (whole people!).

Brilliant brains!

The basis of a workshop is that people leave with practical skills and a working knowledge of pain so that they can go about implementing and integrating these into their life. I am an avid believer in living life as a main purpose. What I mean by this is that many people suffering chronic health and pain will put their lives on hold and await a change. The science and I argue that the way to get back to living, it to actually get out there and live. Of course there are ways to do this and the purpose of the workshop is to show people how they can; emphasis always on the word ‘can’.

It is worth noting that the Newport workshop (call 01633 820321) is for anyone suffering chronic pain. There are also specific workshops for conditions, for example complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS). There is a CRPS workshop on Tuesday in Bath — see here

You can keep up to date on events and read blogs and tips by following me on Facebook (click on the ‘like’ button), Twitter and signing up to my blog here.

Whether you are a clinician who works with people in pain, a professional such as a lawyer or case manager, a patient or carer, I hope to see you soon!

RS

Helping others is distinctly healthy ~ a great story from Ghana

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The Helper’s High

Increasingly we are understanding the healthy benefits of practices that we can adopt in an effort to live a long and happy life. This is highly relevant to the millions of people who suffer chronic pain across the globe.

To suffer chronic pain is to be consistently in a state of protect. Pain is a feature of this state and whilst it is temporary and transient, the person experiencing chronic pain will frequently exist in such a state. Developing skills to shift into a healthier or ‘care-giving’ state (as I call it with people I work with) is fundamental to overcoming pain. With this in mind I have invited contributions from people who have volunteered to do positive work to gain insight into how it made them feel.

You may be wondering how someone with hugely impacting chronic pain could engage with such work. Indeed it would be a challenge for many and to some seem impossible. However, with some thought and planning, volunteering to help others can come in many forms. This benefits all — the giver and the receiver. And like any practice, the more it is done, the easier it becomes. We can all access the ‘helper’s high‘. So, here’s a fascinating story about a recent journey to Ghana to do positive work.

Introducing Kenny Webster

I have recently been on a journey, both physical and metaphorical. I would like to share parts of this journey with you, if you can spare a few moments and I promise to try and not be too smug about it. I am one of those people who has always worked hard and despite warnings from friends and family over the years, I almost certainly worked too hard and too long. By training, I am a research biochemist, but after several years of lab research, I became more involved in the public engagement side of science and eventually ended up working in the science museum sector – inspiring others in the beauty of science. In a working life of over 20 years, I only ever took one day off sick, never used my full annual leave allowance, started early, left late and often went in to the lab/ office at the weekends – sound familiar? Relationships with friends fell by the wayside and I essentially became totally engrossed in work, always telling myself that I was doing a lot of good for a lot of people. This might have been true (the jury is still out), but I certainly didn’t save any lives and I definitely didn’t earn a bucket load of cash that I might have tried to buy happiness with – as I perceive some other people try to do!

DSC_1198.JPGA couple of months ago, I was made redundant. At first, there was shock, but then the rational side of me kicked in and I acknowledged to myself that over the previous few months, I had actually been pretty miserable at work and at least this was going to be an end to that. As I thought through my options, I started to recognise just how much of my personal time was given over to work and that I would actually be getting all of that back as well – it was going to be an opportunity to start again, but without actually having to choose to start again! I decided that I was not going to panic and find a new job, any job, as soon as possible, but instead I was going to do something amazing and meaningful with the time that I now had. I was going to do something that I would have considered myself crazy and irresponsible to have done under normal circumstances. So I went to Ghana for a month and volunteered on community projects.

 

It really was an incredible place. The people were so friendly and welcoming as well as having the best names in the world. I don’t tend to meet people called Blessing, Comfort, Princess or Leticia very often and I certainly don’t meet many children called Alan, Norbert, Theophilius or Richlove! Just the names put a smile on my face! I didn’t once, in four weeks, hear a child cry or a parent shout at a child; it just seemed to be a country where people were content, despite the extreme poverty that we witnessed. The main project that I was working on was building a new school, but we also ran a community library that would only open if volunteers came and opened it. Every day there were around 30 children outside, waiting for us to arrive, desperate to read, practice their English or do some colouring. In this tiny, remote town in the clouds above Ghana, there was such a strong desire to learn.

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One day each week we would visit a hyper-remote village, the sorts of places that you see on comic-relief with a celebrity shedding a tear. But there were no celebrities here, just mud and straw huts, dirty water and smiling children. We would install and demonstrate water filters, carry out minor first aid and dispense food, clothes and hygiene products – basic human rights types of things!

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I was a fair bit older than most of the volunteers (who were largely on gap years or had just finished university) such that I effectively became the house Dad. The vast majority of these people though were remarkable in their commitment and resolve. Yes, one or two were clearly on a holiday or just wanting to have something interesting to say on their personal statement, but most were far more interesting and mature than I was at their age – and despite the Dad jokes, I felt welcomed into their community as much as the Ghanaians welcomed me into theirs.

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Now that I am back home, I am of course considering my future and especially my future employment. My Ghana experience has shown me how much I personally value helping others. I think I have always been quite a nice person, willing to help others, but I now feel that I want go out of my way to try and make other people’s lives a bit easier if I can and from a career perspective, I am certainly looking at organisations whose missions are to help others. As I left employment I told my former colleagues that I was going to go somewhere and do something incredible, even creating the Instagram hashtag #smugken to let me boast about it. There was a certain amount of hope in that desire to do something incredible, but my experience in Ghana has certainly affected me in a very positive way, enriching my life and giving me a strong sense of wellbeing. It might not last, but I hope it does, because I really do think I prefer the version of me that has come back from Ghana.

Kenny Webster