#upandrun Pain Points (4) Pain is a need state

Somewhere I was running

Pain is a need state

Pain can be thought of as a need state like hunger or thirst. Similarly, emotions are considered to be indicative of our inner physiology that guide as towards a range of actions to make sure that we maintain healthy parameters.

Pain is an experience unique to the person. It cannot be seen, it has no shape, colour or form. Pain is typically hard to describe although we have a large number of words that attempt to capture the feeling. Using the word itself tells us that the person is having or has had an experience of the sensation, yet it tells us nothing of the type of sensation. The particular qualities are always private and part of the inner world. Much like thirst. Try and describe the sensation of thirst…

What is a need state? This is when we become aware of a feeling, often closely associated with thoughts (the brain basis of thoughts and feelings co-exist, which makes sense), which has the purpose to motivate action. Our brains and its body systems need each other, and this is part of how we obtain what we need to survive. Our brains are only interested in survival, which is why many people suffer as a consequence of the lives we lead within the current society.

We are designed to look out for danger, and together with the ability to think back and ahead, we can perceive threat very easily. As we keep practicing this, we get very good at it! The consequences of worrying about things that usually don’t happen, or replaying past unpleasant events include all sorts of common ills. For example, chronic pain, IBS, headache, migraine, functional movement disorders, anxiety, depression, pelvic pain, skin disorders and autoimmune diseases. The reason is because we become ‘inflamed’ by the way we live, spend much time in a protect state and hence the healthy mode is quashed. We can change this as soon as we decide to improve our lives in a number of ways.

All of these feelings mentioned above are all signs. They create the opportunity to make changes, create new habits and build a better life. This makes sense because there are many ways we can now satisfy our wants, and indeed society encourages this everyday. You may want to buy things, accumulate stuff, eat junk food, drink alcohol, smoke cigarettes and more. Yet we do not need these things, which only bring very short term relief before the next urge.

Pain as a need state to be transformed requires facing the reasons why the person remains in pain. This can be challenging because we don’t usually like to deal with our ‘stuff’. Instead, it appears easier to take a pill or have an injection or something else that appears to be quick fix. However, none of these things truly transform suffering and liberate the individual. Medical care can contribute a little, but it is the work of the individual to understand their true needs and meet them each day that makes the difference. Pills do not teach you how to live well moment to moment. You must learn the skills of being well in your own way.

This is the purpose of The Pain Coach Programme. To deliver the insight to people so that they can understand their pain and move on to a fulfilling life. This is whether they are a struggling athlete who feels on-going pain, someone with a condition that features pain, a person who feels life has got on top of them and they hurt (and feel exhausted all the time), right across the ages and certainly spanning our society.

We must revise our thinking in society so that the suffering eases. That’s the purpose of Understand Pain (UP and why I am running (follow #upandrun on Twitter) many miles, writing these blogs and giving talks. We can do this together, so please share! All of what I write is based on the latest research and understanding of pain, so whilst it may sound different (and I hope it does), this is because we have been conditioned to believe something more simple. But the more simple version is not solving the problem. It is likely making out worse because people are continuing to rely on drugs and other means to get better, when they do not provide the answers. You do.

RS

#upandrun Pain Points (3) ‘Pain is whole person’

One of the final tapering runs, in the sun #upandrun

Pain is whole person

What does this mean? Put simply, pain is experienced by the person and not by the bodily location or part. In the case of back pain for example, it is not the back that is in pain. Instead it is the person who experiences back pain. This is no different to thirst in as much as the mouth does not experience thirst and head off to get a drink. The person does.

Now, what does ‘whole’ refer to? Again this is a key point of understanding. There are no separations. We are whole. The lived experience, what it is like to be ‘you’ in any given moment, emerges from the meeting of thoughts, perceptions and actions (enactivism).

One of the reasons why considering the whole person is so important is because it is the person that we treat. Pain is poorly related to tissue state, but it is well related to the state of the person. It was Oliver Sacks, the famous neurologist and writer, who stated that it is as much about the person as the condition. He was a man of great compassion and insight.

Conditions in name are lists of signs and symptoms. They are brought to life by the whole person in a unique way with all his or her thoughts, feelings, emotions, expectations, hopes, priors and beliefs, each in a different environment and context. A huge number of variables exist within every unfolding moment. Listening to the narrative illustrates this, which is why deep listening is important.

The model that best represents the whole is the biopsychosocial (BPS) model. Truly using this approach means that the biology, psychology and sociology of pain are considered, in relation to each other. It is in the middle of these overlapping dimensions that the person’s experience sits. This is what we seek to improve, the lived experience.

When we focus on the person and what they want to achieve in their life, we can design a programme that encourages and supports them to take steps in that direction each day. This can only be achieved by thinking about the whole person.

RS

#upandrun Pain Points (2): pain and injury are not the same

CRPS UK running vest for the Brighton Marathon

Pain and injury are not the same

There is a straightforward difference between pain and injury. Pain is subjective and injury is objective. Pain is a lived experienced. An injury is a disruption of the body tissues. You cannot see pain. Usually, you can see an injury.

Unfortunately the words are often used interchangeably. Further, there is the belief that pain and injury are well related. However, we have known that this is not the case for many years. Pat Wall, one of the forefathers of modern pain medicine and science, spoke about this in his famous 1979 lecture. Since then there have been countless studies showing that pain is part of how we protect ourselves and related to the state of the person within a particular context.

We have many stories of varied pain responses to different injuries. Sports people continuing to play with sprains and fractures, soldiers sustaining severe physical trauma reporting no pain, and the large proportion of people suffering the symptoms of IBS without any notable pathology. More-so, there are no investigations that show pain. Pain cannot be seen on an X-ray or an MRI scan.

We must be clear. People suffering pain must understand why they feel pain, why and how it can persist, and then focus on the steps that they can actively take to move on and get better. Misunderstanding pain is one of the main stumbling blocks. Erroneous thinking results in wrong decisions about treatment and self-care, but also impacts upon the sense of empowerment, belief in oneself to improve and hope.

Truly understanding pain helps the person to let go of unhelpful and fearful thoughts and to build confidence (in moving for example). It creates a strong foundation from where the person can build and gather momentum towards their picture of success.

RS

Pain Points (1) with #upandrun

Pain Point (1)

Pain is what the person says it is

This may sound obvious but I think that we need this to be loud and clear. There are still too many people who say that they feel that they are not believed when they describe their experience.

I started my career in healthcare in ’93 training to be a registered general nurse. My fascination with pain began in the theatre recovery rooms when I noticed how propel responded so differently. The ‘size’ of the operation did not seem to matter. How the person was, in other words their state, really did.

Studying pain, I inevitably came across the quote from McCaffery (1968) on pain: “whatever the experiencing person says it is, existing whenever the experiencing person says it does“.

This has ever-stuck with me. Everyone behaves in such a way as to meet their needs. When a person describes their pain experience, these are not merely words. It is an expression of need. In chronic pain, we must ask why is pain a predominant feature of this person’s life? What are the needs that must be met for the suffering to ease?

To understand this, the person must be free to express their lived experience from the first person perspective. As clinicians and therapists, we can only gain insight through deep listening within a supportive, encouraging and compassionate environment.

Deep listening involves being present and paying full attention to the person. Not only do we hear their words but we see how they are embodied and delivered. Getting to know our own biases and beliefs allows us to let these go so that there is no ‘filter’, just pure awareness. This begins the therapeutic process.

See the latest #upandrun post here >> Brighton Marathon to raise awareness of the problem of pain and what we are doing to drive social change

RS

Getting the best of Christmas

5 top tips if you suffer chronic pain

If you are suffering chronic pain, here are 5 tips to maximise your festive spirits and joy. You can decide upon your approach and give it your best by following some simple principles.

1. Make a plan

What is your picture of success? How do you want Christmas to be? What can you focus on that would make it memorable for the right reasons?

The questions we ask ourselves, we will always answer. So, make sure you come up with ones that self-encourage, helping you to focus on what you want, rather than what you do not want.

Think and act like the person you want to be

Make a plan each day, prioritising the key moments, punctuating them with rest and recovery time. You can share your plan with those you’ll be sharing the day with so that everyone is on board. Of course, the best plans do not always turn out the way we want, so we need to be flexible. However, if we try to stick to it in the best way that we can, often made easier by writing it down, then we are doing all that we can to be successful.

2. Motion is lotion

This is a way of nourishing your body (tissues — muscles, joints, tendons etc.). The key is to be consistent through the day. In essence, the movement is ‘pumping’ blood and hence oxygen into the tissues as well as removing the build up of toxins (that cause sensitivity).

The brain is embodied, and needs movement to survive — the brain needs a body. Pretty much everything that we do requires movement. Anything that gets in the way of the movements necessary to meet our needs will raise the perceived threat value. As many readers will know, pain is well-related to perception of threat and the state of the person, and poorly related to the tissue state.

Move to groove >>> any movement is a good movement!

A simple way of using ‘motion is lotion’ is to move and change position every 15-20 minutes, and then stand up and move around every 40-60 minutes. These are ball-park figures and it is important to work out your own need for movement. Further, you may like to use prompts and reminders until this becomes a habit.

3. 3 breaths

As often as you can remember (use reminders for this as well), stop and pay attention to three full breaths. Notice the moment when you first breathe in, the sensations in your body, and as you breathe out, the sense of letting go.

Attention is one of the skills of being well. A famous study was entitled, ‘the wandering mind is an unhappy mind’; in other words, the more we can pay attention to what is really happening, the happier we feel. Paying attention to your breath is a simple way to develop this skill.

Notice how you relax and muscles ‘let go’ as you breathe out. This is because on the out-breath, the parasympathetic nervous system is more active. This branch of the autonomic nervous system is responsible for all the important healthy functions behind the scenes: digestion, sleep, energy, anti-inflammatory activity and more.

5/5 breathing >>> count slowly to 5 as you breathe in, and count slowly to 5 as you breathe out. Continue for a minute or two, or longer

We have no direct access to our biology. It is in the dark, so to speak. However, there are one or two things we can choose to take control over to an extent. Breathing is one, with all the benefits that come with the innumerable practices that have been ‘breathed’ over the centuries.

A further use of the 3 breaths is when you feel tense, pain, frustrated, angry, upset or any other emotional state. Notice how when you pay attention to the breath, those feelings ease. This is because you have stopped fuelling them with the thoughts.

4. Meaningful connections

We need each other. We are design to connect and share and be generous. Have you noticed how your feelings change when you do something for someone else, no matter how small or insignificant that it may be? In fact, it is the little things, consistently, that make the difference, especially in a relationship.

How great does it feel to be with people who care about you, and you care about? Notice how that feeling builds when you pay attention to it (re-read the bit on attention above if necessary). Become aware of those great feelings and sensations in your body when you merely think about a special person.

Even when you don’t know the person you are encountering, can you make the connection meaningful by passing the time of day, and smiling? Of course you can! This can become the way you do it; your style.

Watch other people interact, share and be kind to each other. You will change state and feel it. Pay extension.

One way of connecting is by touch. Again, by design we have a system dedicated to light touch that is a direct way of soothing another, showing care and concern and evoking a healthy biological response. This is also a simple way for a partner to share a moment with you.

The key to feeling the effects, is to be present. This is the only moment, right now…it’s gone, and here is another…gone, and so on. Being present means that you can pay attention to what is actually happening, rather than being embroiled in the mind’s wanderings. To be present is also a skill to practice.

5. Smile. Just because you can

Notice what happens when you bring on a gentle smile. A soft upturn of the corners of your mouth. You can choose to tie this in with the now well-known practice of gratitude. The (biological) state of gratitude is one of the healthiest and an ‘antidote’ to suffering states.

Before the practice, it is important to acknowledge that all states are normal and part of the spectrum of feeling states. We need all of these states of course, as they communicate a need.

What are my needs right now? This is a great thinking tool, as you step back from being caught up in it all, and realise what it is that you need to do in this moment: move, breathe, eat, re-frame a thought etc.

What are my needs right now?

To practice gratitude is to become aware of something in your life that you are grateful for. There are many things that we can chose. Of course, whether they become apparent depends on your mood. A handy mantra here is: for a good mood be grateful, in a bad mood be graceful.

Practice: think of a moment in your life when you felt truly grateful for something. Focus your full attention on this memory, re-living it using all your senses, noticing which senses amplify the feelings. Is it the sights, the sounds, the feel? As you continue to focus on the feelings as they arise in your body, notice how they build.

Moment to moment noticing of things to be grateful for and those that bring you joy is a practice; a skill. For instance, you can decide to approach the day by looking out for things that make you laugh or smile. Then you practice.

The fact of the matter is simple in principle. The challenge is to keep focused and pay attention to what is really happening in the face of the many distractions. It is to realise that we live out a story that can appear to have been written for us. There’s some truth here in as much as we are fed beliefs from a young age, many of which are wrong, yet can limit us as we grow. Realising that you do not have to continue with the same story if it is full of suffering, is the first step to moving onward. Many don’t realise their potential, feeling that somehow, this is it. Not true. Is it time for a new story for you?

What will be your story from now?

And so, what will be your approach? How are you going to do Christmas? How are you going to do life? What is your picture of success? What principles must you follow each day to get those little wins on the way forward? Make a plan, get the right support and encouragement around you, and go for it. Each person is a miracle when you think about how we came into existence and how we are designed to grow and serve a purpose.

Merry Christmas.

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!

Drugs and pain

Help

Drugs remain the predominant approach for chronic pain….

…which is one main reason why the problem of pain is escalating. We can never truly overcome chronic pain by thinking that drugs are going to do it for us. We have been brought up in a society in which medication is embedded in our thinking ~ we expect it, healthcare delivers it.

However the reality is very different, which is why the continued use of the biomedical model for chronic pain consistently lets people down. This is now an old fashioned approach that does not work.


Recent headlines

‘Unnecessary’ painkillers could leave thousands addicted, doctors warn’ in The Guardian, May 2017 ~ read here

‘Accidental addiction to painkillers ‘a public health crisis’, says charity’ on Sky News today ~ read here

Mr Shapiro said: “If you look back to say 2009 when the all-party parliamentary group on drugs produced a report on this very issue, including not just painkillers but tranquilisers and anti-depressants and the Government then took a very complacent view of the whole situation… that attitude hasn’t really changed.”

WHY? 

Why is there such little interest from the government, from policy makers, from research funders etc etc? I am sure that when some of these people experience their own chronic pain, they will regret that lack of interest. In the meantime we need social progress for this enormous social problem ~ understand pain a purpose-led enterprise driving social change


You may think that my opening statements suggest that I am anti-drugs. No, I am not. There is a place for medication in the treatment of pain but there must be parameters. For example:

  • What is the best drug for this person and how their pain problem emerges
    • e.g. based on latest evidence ~ ‘Existing evidence on the use of gabapentinoids in CLBP is limited and demonstrates significant risk of adverse effects without any demonstrated benefit’ August 2017 ~ read here
  • Does the person understand the drug: why am I using this one? What does it do?
  • How long will the person be on the drug?
  • When will it be reviewed?
  • How will the use of this drug fit into an overall treatment programme?

The fact that the old model continues to be used means that other serious problems have emerged, adding further suffering and cost: addiction. To use the Buddhist definition of the word ignorance is relevant. To be ignorant is to fail to see the reality. That is most definitely what has happened and this must change now.

Drugs do not teach us how to overcome pain. They merely mask the underlying issues for a short time before they bubble up again. Whilst this can be convenient and briefly satisfy the search for a ‘quick fix’, each time the pain re-emerges and each time the next dose is taken there is a learning.

We learn to gain a dependence on the relationship between taking something and the pleasure of relief ~ this is not addiction, which is another result from over-using drugs or an inappropriate use of medication. The short-termism is perhaps the way we are designed to work, seeking pleasure and avoiding pain as quickly as possibly. This us understandable, yet it still remains the wrong route to truly overcome pain.

Overcoming pain

So if drugs don’t do it, what does? There are simple steps yet it is challenging and hard work. However, hard work and focus are fundamental when we are seeking results and achievement.

“Success comes from knowing that you did your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming” ~ John Wooden

Firstly we must get our thinking straight. Understand pain: like any problem we must understand it to seek the solution.

Then we must take action, repeatedly, in the desired direction. Actions include our thoughts and how they make us feel and direct what we actually do. We must not make the error of thinking that the mind and our thoughts are somehow separate from the physical-ness of ourself. They are not. Our mind is embodied ~ where else can you experience your thinking but in your perceptions and actions? And where do you experience this from? Your body. Each moment is made of thoughts, perceptions and actions that define how we ‘live’ that moment.

Whilst this can sound a bit wordy and a bit philosophical, it creates a practical way onwards with a range of practices and skills that we can develop. What we practice we get better at and what we focus upon we get more of. What do you want?

“What do you want?”

Re-read the question if you need to. What do you want? What does that look like? How can you orientate yourself towards this vision in your thinking and actions each day, each moment? The answer to the first question is not, I do not want this pain. That is what you don’t want, this pain. It draws your attention, focus and resources to pain, pain, pain. Again, think about what you want. Let the image arise in your mind’s eye. Then make it brighter, more colourful and bigger. How do you feel?

To overcome pain we must learn to coach ourselves. We ask ourselves the right questions to start the day off well, committing to be the ‘best me’. Then we practice the skills we have learned that are all in line with your vision ~ movements, exercises, sensorimotor training, mindfulness, communication (with self and others), attention, gratitude, resilience, re-engaging with desired activities, people and situations to name but a few.

The content of each programme is sculpted according to the individual, who always does his or her best, learning all the way. Learning about the causes of on-going pain and how to transform their state over and over so that there is sustained change as the person reaches their potential. This is the essence of Pain Coach ~ the person getting results.

We are seeking social progress. The vehicle to drive this progress is UP or understand pain. UP is a purpose-led enterprise delivering the pinnacle of our knowledge of pain to those in need via workshops (recent CRPS Workshop success) and other means: including the pain sufferers, their families and friends, the policy makers, patient groups, charities and organisations.

Now is the time. Now we must move onwards and embrace the knowledge that we have gained and the new knowledge that will continue to emerge from research and experience. With this we can carve forward to reduce the enormous suffering and costs for a better society that thrives. Drugs are not the answer. The answers are within us.

“Be the change you want to see in the world” ~ Mahatma Gandhi

I would add, be the change you want to see in you. Because you can.

Please contact us if you would like to link, partner and arrange a workshop:

Workshop for CRPS a great success

Understand Pain & Pain Coach Workshop ~ Bath, 2017

“Thank you very much for today. It was a real privilege to attend”

I was delighted that we filled all the places and had to add several more for the CRPS workshop on Monday. It was an excellent afternoon with a really engaged group, keen to understand and know what they can do to move onward. That is the premise for Understand Pain and Pain Coach Workshops, where we deepen our knowledge of pain so that we can focus on what we CAN to be successful and get results.

This was the first UP & CRPS UK workshop at Royds Withy King in Bath, and based on the demand and feedback, we will be rolling out future dates across the UK. We will also be extending the workshops to a day so that we can have even more experiences of success together. The day is all about taking action and having the experience of what that is like, driving and motivating change in your desired direction.

The popular practices we looked at included the mindful practices that can be used in different ways to create calm, insight and focus, the ‘check in’, and journalising. We followed the way that I do in sessions with people 1:1, starting with the vision, strengths and values. This attunes the person to where they are going and the characteristics they possess to use to get there.  Over the afternoon we covered the key areas:

  • Understand Pain
    • What is pain?
    • The size of the problem of pain
    • CRPS criteria
  • Pain Coach
    • The practices that constitute a lived programme that interweaves into the person’s life, whilst they live their life as a means to overcoming pain — becoming a self coach and a self leader

The three main features of the workshops are simple and digestible:

  1. The model of success ~ how we can be successful
  2. Strengths based coaching ~ how to get the best of you
  3. The pinnacle of our knowledge of pain ~ understand pain to change pain

There is no reason why we can’t address pain, learn, transform, and have fun at the same time!

Here are some more comments:

What did people most enjoy?

  • “being in a space to acknowledge pain, guilt free”
  • “Richmond especially, extremely brilliant way with him”
  • “lovely delivery style”
  • “the way the workshop was presented”
  • “very enjoyable”
  • “good explanations. Simple to understand”
  • “very informative”
  • “I did not expect to be challenged as much as I am now following the workshop — positively”
  • “interactive nature of the event”

Come and join us next time!

Future events driving social change

For release in September ~ In conversation: Rich and Pete talk pain. A series of short videos focusing on the key areas of pain. See Pain Coach and Physiotherapist Richmond Stace + Pain Toolkit’s Pete Moore in relaxed conversation. My aim is to create a community so that we can drive social change via new thinking based on new understanding of pain and the action we must take as a society. This is just the beginning. Join us!

FullSizeRender.jpg

Understand Pain & Pain Coach Talk ~ Weds 4th October 2017 at The Royal Society of Medicine ~ click here to book

Understand Pain & Pain Coach Workshop for Clinicians and Therapists ~ Thursday 5th October 2017 in New Malden, Surrey ~ click here to book

Probably the best meeting in the World

More reflections on SIP 2017

IMG_4732

You know what it’s like. You realise at the time that you are involved with something important. Then you get home and start thinking ‘wow’, that really was probably the best and most important meeting in the World when it comes to the problem of pain: SIP 2017.

The problem of pain is undoubtedly one of the greatest challenges facing society, and most people don’t even realise. Up to 441 billion Euros is the cost of chronic pain each year. That is an enormous financial burden that does nothing to describe the suffering endured. This can and must change. Attitudes and beliefs in society need a drastic update in line with what we really know about our potential as human beings for fostering change. Out with the old messages, out with interventions and medicines as the way to solely ‘manage’ pain, out with the notion that pain equates to tissue damage. Out, out, out!

“out with the old messages and in with the real understanding of pain. Then society knows that this suffering can ease

It was fascinating and enlightening to hear so many European clinicians and stakeholders talking about people (patients), the importance of healthcare professional education, and even the word coaching was used. In the room were people looking at pain from all angles, a unique blend in the first place. This set the scene for deep discussion, learning and results.

The openness to ideas and modern thinking about pain was refreshing. The people at SIP 2017 want to understand, want to learn and above all want to make a difference. And we can make a difference by persevering and looking at every possible way to change the way society thinks about pain ~ understand pain to change pain.

No single group dominated the meeting. Instead the forum was truly free for each person to contribute and put forward their thinking and experiences. We heard people talk about their pain, and they were able to discuss this with scientists, clinicians and policy makers in an environment created purposefully. It seems that clinicians ‘worry’ about conferences or meeting where people with pain and suffering can speak about their lives. Instead, this should be encouraged and embraced as we get to the bottom of the problem and take real steps forward. How useful is a conference where academics or clinicians speak about cases and research without ant real stories in the room?

“the openness to ideas and modern thinking about pain was refreshing

My intention is to build and cement relationships with other stakeholders across Europe, be involved with the new EU platform, contribute with UP and Pain Coach workshops and take action in line with the vision of UP: a society that understands pain.

SIP statement

‘The European Commission is following SIP’s lead and has launched the EU Health Policy Platform to build a bridge between health systems and policy makers. Among other health policy areas, the societal impact of pain is included as well and will have a dedicated expert group.’

In the UK we must take this example of how we can move forward. Pain is a societal issue and hence we need to hear from all stakeholders, in particular patient representative groups. The lived experience of the person is the basis of what we are working with to overcome pain. We are seeking to change the story so that the person can say: I feel like myself. Change is what people want, defined in their own terms by things that they want to do in their life. We can and must work on a number of levels to achieve this and we can and must be optimistic. Why? Because we are changing every moment, we are designed to change and need to know how.

Our quality of life is determined by how we feel. How we feel is determined by what we are thinking (consciously and subconsciously). What we are thinking is based on our beliefs about the world, and these stem from all the influences in our life. The moment to moment decisions and actions we take through the day shape our life and the ‘rating’ we give to our life. However, there is constant change afoot and we can harness the opportunity this creates by making decisions to commit to a particular pathway. The pathway is determined by the practices chosen in line with a desired outcome. Being determined to be the best you, with a clear vision and being coached to achieve success and long-term results transforms the experience. This is the essence of Pain Coaching.

With 100 million people suffering pain in Europe, 100 million Americans suffering and the rest of the World following the same theme, we must create the conditions for change. This starts with the understanding of pain because when people truly understand their pain, they realise their potential and a way forward. There can be a role for medication and interventions on occasion, but with this being a societal problem, there are many other actions that empower and enable people to overcome their pain. Together we can do this as a modern society. We have the means and with the costs so high, we have the impetus.

RS

Pain Coach Workshop for GPs

Why should GPs understand pain?

Audience Applaud Clapping Happines Appreciation Training Concept

Sat 3rd June Education Morning at New Malden Diagnostics Centre

~ 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.

RS