Chronic pain is the major cause of disabilities and the most disabling of all aliments. Chronic pain happens over a long time and therefore affords an opportunity for learned behaviour.
Rehabilitation may not produce a cure but it stands to greatly improve one’s quality of life. There is a need to identify the elements in a client’s environment that reinforce pain behavior. Chronic pain people sometimes manipulate and control out of a compulsion to remain as pain patients. As practitioners, we cannot take away a client’s pain but we can assist them to release their pain when that is what he or she decides to do.
The practitioner’s purpose is to challenge the client’s beliefs; to shake them when they are flimsy; and to make the client support or change them until their beliefs are shaken down to those in which they can show interest and enthusiasm.
It is always a good idea to ask oneself whether the client’s pain is a warning of disease, a bid for attention or sympathy, a signal of unhappiness or depression, or merely a characteristic way of reacting to other people. With discussion, conflicts don’t disappear, but with insight the client can choose to change their behaviour and/or their reactions.
Clients often resist change and cling to their pain. They have a fear of change and lack something constructive to replace the pain. Bear in mind that not all chronic pain sufferers are professional pain clients.
When all is said and done, pain is when there is a sensation of hurting. A simple statement for sure, but nonetheless it is the bottom line. For pain is not a simple cause and effect process. It is very individual and very varied. One’s psychic structure at any point in time can raise or lower the pain threshold. Philosophy, religion, sex and culture can affect the perception of pain. What one person feels as pain, another might not notice. Pain is the accepted name that is put on a sensation that is felt. For some, pain is not a primary sensation but rather a complex state of mind, holding emotionally charged feelings that would better be described as anguish, grief, distress, tension or anxiety. Pain is a signal that something is not right or a warning that requires a reaction.
Clearly pain cannot always be separated from emotion and emotion plays a major role in the perception of pain in some cases, increasing the pain and others blocking the pain.
Pain can be controlled in some situations by increasing large fiber output such as initiated by massage or tactile stimulation, which Polarity Therapy does for example. Pain can also be lessened by such means of specific training as behavioral conditioning and/or using the power of suggestion and distraction techniques. There is truth in the sayings “As we think – we are” and “Our body is a reflection of our thoughts.”
The multifaceted, multi disciplined approach works best with chronic pain. There are four basic steps in the successful management of pain:
1) have check-up by your doctor to determine cause and whether or not medical treatment is indicated.
2) doing the proper work up and getting a complete history
3) determining the trigger for the pain
4) using the best strategy, in the right amount, at the right time for the particular client’s aliment
People can build their world around pain and a behaviour pattern that victimizes family, friends and even medical personnel can develop. Their environment is what molds the direction their behaviour takes. When a sense of reward or satisfaction follows a given behaviour in their environment, then that behaviour is repeated. Unknowingly, the pain behaviour finds reinforcement within the environment. When the client engages in some behaviour identified by others to be indicative of pain, then this behaviour becomes known as pain behaviour. (e.g. favoring a sore leg)
When the chronically ill begin rehabilitation, major gaps in their health -behaviour repertoire are found. They have been out of touch with healthy actions for so long that they don’t know how to be well. It has to be relearned, reprogrammed with healthy patterns and actions re-established. This is what brings about well being.
The reason that chronic pain is so hard to alleviate is that the memory of pain tends to lower pain thresholds. This can result in a more intense response.
Drugs do not kill pain, they change people’s perception of it. They work in the brain itself interfering with the communication between the cortex (thinking cap) and the deeper thalamus. Actually, our psyche operates in pain perception perhaps even changing the way parts of our brain and nervous system respond to one another and send signals. Our bodies produce endorphins and these are our natural painkillers. It has been said that when pressure is applied to the head these endorphins are produced. There are theories that joggers enjoy jogging because it stimulates the brain to release endorphins. Endorphins are powerful antidotes to depression and lift one’s spirits. In the case of acupuncture and acupressure, endorphin release again occurs. These principles are also used in other disciplines such as Polarity Therapy.
Regularity in exercise is important to stimulate endorphin secretion. When starting to make regular exercise a part of one’s natural habit pattern it helps to remember that it takes about six weeks to develop a habit. Start gradually and work up to 1/2 – 3/4 hr. for three to five times per week. The best exercise is walking, swimming or jogging.
Dr. Stone the founder of Polarity Therapy said, “All pain is but an obstruction to energy flow.” Energy flow gets blocked when there is unexpressed emotion. Only when life’s currents are obstructed and become stagnant does fermentation of waste in the tissues cause decay and germs. Electromagnetic waves, their charge and cellular polarity are effected by depressed and repressed mental – emotional states. Even the cerebrospinal fluid becomes blocked when there is toxic waste build up. Through bodywork like Polarity and Cranial Sacral Therapy these blocks are removed as the energy currents are once again restored to free flowing. Remembering that force negates, and the supreme art is in the mastering of the art of “doing by – not doing” and to guide or facilitate the client’s return to the desired state of wellness and well -being.