My biggest breakthrough in my journey with persistent pain took place when I was taught by a physiotherapist to understand pain.  Before this I thought that all my pain related to my ‘damaged’ back and ‘damaged’ sciatic nerve root, and I had no idea that there were other factors in my experience of pain.  I knew no better than to seek medications that would resolve my pain, injections and surgery.  I didn’t understand that everything about me, what I did and how I felt impacted on my pain. 

 

Armed with my better general understanding of pain I was able to start to understand MY pain. I was helped to start to notice what was making my pain better and worse, and helped to start to self-manage my pain.  Learning to self-manage my pain opened the door for me to stop taking medications, stop seeking ‘fixes’ to my pain, and start to live a better life with pain. 

 

I hope these resources will help you to gain a better general understanding of pain.   A very important first step to understanding and managing YOUR pain. 

 

This section needs to be read in conjunction with the section entitled ‘Understand YOUR pain’, which goes into more detail about the complexity of pain and how pain affects an individual person. 

Pain is: "An unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with, or resembling that associated with, actual or potential tissue damage."

IASP (International Association for the Study of Pain)

Different types of pain

Neuropathic pain is caused by a dysfunction of one or more nerves and is often described as tingling, burning or shooting pain.  It can be constantly present or it can vary. 

 

People often get this type of pain when they have shingles, sciatica, cervical or lumbar radiculopathy, trigeminal neuralgia, or diabetic neuropathy.

I think of nociceptive pain as ‘normal’ pain.  Examples of nociceptive pain include an ankle sprain, a paper cut, non specific low back pain and a burn from a hot oven tray.

It can be thought of as pain associated with tissue damage, or sometimes potential tissue damage.  For example you may move your hand quickly away from the hot oven tray and experience a brief period of pain without any damage to your skin.  This pain has indicated potential tissue damage and has acted as an effective early warning system helping you to act by pulling your hand away.  If you touch the tray for longer you may experience both tissue damage and pain. 

Nociceptors are sensory endings on nerves that can be excited or sensitized and signal potential, or actual, tissue damage.  Whether or not this nociceptor excitation is actually experienced as pain depends on many factors including the context of the experience and the priority your brain/mind gives to the potential threat of injury.

Understanding pain through videos

Click on the pictures to learn more about each strand

1. Embrace the 'new you'

2. Understand pain

3. Understand YOUR pain

4. Know your pain triggers

5. Make plans, set goals

6. Pace yourself

7. Track your progress

8. Improve your sleep

9. Manage health conditions

10. Move and exercise

11. Improve your nutrition

12. Support your mental health

13. Relax and be mindful

14. Do things you enjoy

15. Attend to life stressors

16. Access clinician support

17. Ask for, and accept help

18. Help others understand

19. Review medications

20. Make adaptations, use aids

21. Return to work / education

22. Engage and socialise

23. Volunteer / help others

24. Explore resources

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