The Body Electric
The best thing that has come out of lockdown for me is being introduced to the works, thoughts and understandings of Lorimer Moseley and David Butler. Lorimer is a pain scientist and David an educator and all round good egg; their intellect, understanding, tireless work and great humour is a joy to witness. My good friend and colleague Sam and I had the privilege of a three day pain course with these two giants last weekend. All done via Zoom, meant an early start as we were on Adelaide time and by the end our brains were coming out of our ears. The course was all about pain, how it’s generated, what influences it (everything!), misconceptions (think wear and repair, not wear and tear), what it is for (protection) and how we can best help folk in pain (educate, educate, educate).
Clients in pain are helped by understanding the tip of the iceberg that is pain science, as clinicians we need to understand the rest. Well, that’s the rest of my life sorted!
The more we understand pain, the better able we are to manage it and find ways to tackle the problem.
So here is the thing 1. Pain is always real 2.Pain is generated by the brain to protect you,100% of the time (there are no pain nerves in the tissues). This does not mean you are imagining pain or making it up, see point 1. 3. Pain depends on context, your beliefs and understanding of pain and your emotions will all affect pain levels.
The downside is that pain is wonderfully complex and subtle, you feel pain when your brain considers that you are in danger. This is built on years of various experiences, accidents, things people have said to you, beliefs you hold, it is not a conscious process, therefore it can be quite difficult to work out WHY?
The upside is that pain is wonderfully complex and subtle so there are many ways to tackle the problem, not just drugs and surgery.
Plus the more we understand about it, the more willing, brave and open we are to engage with this new paradigm the more likely we are to find some relief from persistent pain.
It is Lorimer’s belief that with the right guidance and education all chronic pain sufferers can be helped with their pain; that is quite a claim.
Pharmaceutical companies will never be able to find a pain pill; because pain generation is almost unique in every person as we all have different backgrounds, genes, experiences, ideas, thoughts, beliefs and biology.
This makes me feel so excited and empowered; here we have something that will really make a difference to people. I am already understanding and explaining pain differently to clients, I see people making different connections and lightbulbs going off; it is so good to find another way.
Three things that can help pain:
1. Sort your sleep out; good sleep hygiene, no screen time 30 min before bed.
2. Exercise: This can be very very moderate if it is difficult for you. Decide to do a small amount and stick to the plan.
3. Watch your thoughts: Don’t fall into catastrophising, if you flare up don’t freak out, don’t think that getting worse is inevitable.
Three more things that will help:
1.Learn about pain have a look at this great website (Lorimer again) http://www.painrevolution.org look at the target concepts page.
2. Eat a rainbow of fruit and veg daily; look after your microbiome walking outside will help this too.
3.Do things you enjoy, accentuate the positive.
I am now embarking on a 12 week online course to deepen my understanding of pain science, no prizes for guessing who has a hand in it! I’ll keep you posted.
If there is anything I can do to help you please let me know.