Chronic pain is usually defined as being pain that lasts for more than a few months. It commonly has no obvious cause and some patients struggle to find help from the usual medical sources.
Sometimes there can be a diagnosed reason such as Fibromyalgia, Osteoarthritis, Diabetes or IBS, but not always.
So why does it happen?
All around our body we have sensors that are activated and send signals via the nervous system to the brain whenever there is a potential threat to the body. This could be real or perceived.
How the brain interprets these signals is based on many factors including Expectations, Past experiences, Beliefs and Emotions.
If the brain decides that the body is in danger based on all of the information gathered, it will get the body to do something about that threat. This ‘something’ could be muscle tension, release of chemicals, a stress reaction or PAIN.
Therefore, pain comes from the brain, not the body. All areas of your life can influence how much pain you feel and the amount of pain is not directly related to the amount of damage to your body.
Just like any other part of the body the pain system can go wrong and act in a way that is not protective. It can send messages that do not signal tissue damage or inflammation.
We cannot treat the pain directly, because it is the pain system itself that is at fault, but it is possible to retrain the brain to stop the vicious cycle and improve quality of life.
The NHS suggests the following strategies for treatment of chronic pain:
Keep active, walking, swimming, yoga, cycling etc.
Go to work or school as much as possible to maintain a normal daily routine
Set a goal to work towards with regards your pain or activity level
Break this down into achievable mini goals
Gentle massage, stretching and strengthening exercises can help
Get as much sleep as you need
Focus attention on quality of life, not the pain
If you need any help or advice about fitting more activity into your life or want to find out how massage can help you manage your pain, please get in touch