Back Pain & Other Chronic Pain Relief Sydney
Chronic or persistent pain is defined by pain that has lasted for three months or more. Unfortunately, for some people, it can last for years.
Chronic pain, quite unlike acute pain, is not caused by inflammation or tissue damage in the body. Instead, chronic pain is the result of over activated pain pathways in the brain. Pain pathways that are inaccurately signaling to the mind that there is damage in your body that needs to be attended to.
Pain is nature’s way of warning you of potential danger, it is an important and necessary mechanism that helps us take care of ourselves. But these altered pain pathways disrupt this helpful process and cause persistent activation of the fight/flight response (your body’s reaction to danger) which can cause very real and painful physical symptoms in the body.
One of the simplest examples of our body involuntarily indicating that something “dangerous” is happening is when we react with blushing when we feel embarrassed, or when we get a knot in our stomach when we are tense or stressed – the body registers something is amiss and sends us a signal. When this normal human response becomes very strong it can cause severe pain, or other symptoms that can be disabling. Common symptoms include chronic spine pain, tension headaches, irritable bowel syndrome, atypical chest pain, chronic pelvic pain, and fibromyalgia.
After a physician has indicated that there is no underlying medical condition that can be found, these pain conditions can be helped by identifying, diagnosing and treating the underlying psychological and emotional issues.
My approach to treatment takes an individualized perspective by Identifying and working with the key factors, the unique personal history and the current stressors of each client. My understanding of chronic pain is grounded in contemporary research on TMS (tension myoneural syndrome) and PPD (Psychophysiological Disorders) and therefore heavily influenced by the work of John Sarno and others, including Howard Shubiner, David Clarke and David Hanscom and Fran Anderson.
As a rule of thumb, treatment focuses on educating the client about how the fight/flight response works and on altering behavior that might unintentionally keep the flight/fight response turned on. Fear for example, can be a significant factor that keeps pain pathways active. Helping clients to identify and experience their emotions can be a key component of treatment. At times, if the client is unaccustomed to being in touch with their feelings, treatment is focused on helping them learn to feel comfortable with paying attention to what is happening in their body (besides pain). Strategies such as journaling and negative writing have also been shown to have significant benefit for many people with chronic pain.
For some, more intensive treatment consists of identifying problematic experiences from the past and working to overcome them. Adverse childhood experiences are frequently a significant factor in chronic pain.
Surprisingly for some, treatment is NOT about discussing your pain. In fact, the opposite is true – the focus is to develop the capacity to use pain as a signal that tells you that you need to begin to think psychologically.
Once the pain signals are turned off, the symptoms will usually improve and can go away completely.