We all feel pain from time to time. When someone injures themselves, specific nerves recognise this as pain, which in turn triggers the body’s repair mechanism. As the problem resolves, the pain tends to improve and usually disappears within 3-6 months. This type of pain could be argued to be beneficial: if it hurts, you are likely to try and avoid doing whatever it is that has caused the pain in the future, so you are less likely to injure yourself in that way again.
Occasionally the pain continues even after tissue healing has finished. When pain continues after this point, it becomes known as persistent (or is sometimes referred to as chronic) pain. This type of pain is not beneficial and is a result of the nerves becoming oversensitised, which means that a painful response will be triggered much more easily than normal. This can be unpleasant, but doesn’t necessarily mean that you are doing yourself any harm simply by moving. You could think of this as a sensitive car alarm that goes off in error when someone walks past (for more information on how pain works, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QUrKgv43W2c ).
Persistent pain is very common and affects over 14 million people in the UK alone. It often doesn’t respond to conventional medical interventions and needs a different kind of approach, but there are many things that you can do to manage your pain yourself with the support of one of our osteopaths or physiotherapists, your family and loved-ones. Keeping active, performing exercises and stretches can help, learning to pace your activities so that you don’t trigger a flare-up of your pain, as well as setting goals and priorities are all very important and can help you to maintain a fulfilling lifestyle.
For more information on how to manage your persistent pain, please speak to one of our osteopaths or visit http://www.paintoolkit.org/ an informative website that provides lots of great resources and tips on how to cope with your symptoms.