While acute pain is a normal sensation triggered in the nervous system to alert you to possible injury and the need to take care of yourself, chronic pain is different. Chronic pain means that pain signals remain active in the nervous system for weeks, months or even years. This takes its toll, not just physically, but also emotionally.
Chronic pain may have started with an initial trauma or injury (sprained back, serious infection, serious fall) or there may be daily factors sustaining it (e.g. arthritis, cancer, ear infection). However in some cases there is no identifiable cause.
Common chronic pain:
pain from injury
generalised muscle/nerve pain
carpal tunnel syndrome
and pain specific to any one part of the body
What role do emotions play?
Anxiety, stress, depression, anger or fatigue are negative emotions that often follow any longterm pain condition. The emotional toll of chronic pain aggravates the pain further:
The natural production of the body’s own painkillers is reduced and the sensation of pain amplified, thus perpetuating the vicious pain cycle.
The relentlessness of the pain can affect the body’s most basic defences, resulting in a suppressed immune system and further ill health.
Chronic pain conditions
Some chronic pain conditions are linked to an identifiable cause, like arthritis, degenerative disc disease, spinal stenosis or spondylolisthesis. Others like fibromyalgia or nerve pain have no known or understood cause.
chronic fatigue syndrome
inflammatory bowel disease (IBS)
temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ dysfunction)
Is there treatment for it?
Treatment is different for each pain condition and is easier if the cause for the pain has been detected:Understanding what causes the pain to persist and recognising everyday changes that can help is an important step.
Medication, acupuncture, local electrical stimulation, brain stimulation as well as manipulative therapies, relaxation techniques, counselling and behavioural therapies can help reduce the impact of the pain.
Fighting chronic pain is a lifelong struggle for many.
Where does osteopathy fit in?
-Addresses the stiffness that builds up after months of pain with articulatory techniques to improve the muscle tone and joint mobility. This helps reduce the pain nerve signals to the brain and allows fresh blood to bring new nutrients to the area of pain.
-Gets the lymphatics moving with soft issue work and stretching. This helps reduce the build up of toxins and reduces inflammation.
-Calms the nervous system with gentle cranial techniques. Both your mind and your body relaxes during this.
-Finds the root problem of the pain, i.e. what part in the body is not allowing it to get over that initial insult. And then helps your body to release it.
-Osteopathy can often help when everything else has failed.