This week is National Pain Week (20th-26th July 2015).  The campaign this year is all about ‘Pain….Let’s talk about it’.

So, let’s talk about it.

Businessman with neck pain after long hours at work

Pain exists and affects all of us at some stage in life. For some people however, it becomes a daily reality due to conditions such as cancer, auto-immune disease or arthritis to name a few. You may have had a traumatic injury such as a car accident or sporting injury, which has led to a chronic state of pain. Or maybe there has not been a diagnosis for your pain, which can be frustrating and perplexing.

My own journey to discover Osteopathy was because my father had had a bodysurfing accident during which he hit his head on the sand. This resulted in compression fractures of two thoracic vertebrae in his mid back. He was in pain for months, even beyond when the original fractures had ‘healed’. The pain affected his ability to work, his level of activity, his weight, his mood and his relationships. He had seen multiple health practitioners before he discovered Osteopathy, which he found helped him immensely.

He still has some level of discomfort and pain in that region, however he has learnt to manage it with osteopathy treatment, exercises, pain relief medication and appropriate rest.

Whilst it was unfortunate for him, the positive was it gave me a desire to study Osteopathy to be able to help others in pain.

You may think my father’s injury was fairly mild or benign compared to the suffering you are experiencing or witnessing in a loved one. However, pain is pain.  Suffering is suffering. Your story is unique. The focus of this week is to break the silence and reduce the stigma of living with chronic pain.

Chronic Pain Australia is encouraging you to tell your story. There are countless stories of people on the website here (http://www.nationalpainweek.org.au/index.php/people/story-tellers) who share their struggles, their daily reality and their desire to live a full life despite their ongoing pain.

Here are three tips if you suffer from chronic pain:

  • Try to understand the science of chronic pain. No matter what your diagnosis is or the advice you have been given, if you are able to understand how the nervous system and immune system work you will know what makes your pain better or worse
  • Learn strategies for dealing with pain, isolation, fatigue and the depression that often follows chronic pain. There is no ‘one size fits all’ way of treating it. You may have to use a combination of things such as medications, diet, relaxation, thinking strategies and more
  • Create a team of health care professionals around you to help you manage your pain and minimise the effect it has on your life and those around you. These helpful health professionals will understand chronic pain and know how to treat it or manage it, listen to your concerns, encourage you to ask questions, help you create goals and build a management plan

Chronic Pain Australia says “the good news is that over time and with the support from others, it is possible to ‘turn down the volume’ of your pain, and enjoy life”.

If you or someone you know suffers from chronic pain, please feel free to discuss it with your osteopath or chiropractor. We may be able to be part of your team to help you to reach your health and life goals.

We also have a fantastic psychologist, Natasha Grabham, starting at Body of Life Health Centre in August 2015. If you have experienced trauma, depression, anxiety, stress, anger or developed addictions as part of living with chronic pain, Natasha may be able to support you and help you improve your quality of life.

Article written by Dr Melanie Woollam (Osteopath)

For more information visit: Chronic Pain Australia Website http://www.nationalpainweek.org.au