Chronic Pain – Part 3
Focus is another strategy that we use as physiotherapists to help you manage your chronic pain. To understand how this helps, you need to understand how the brain changes when you have pain for a long time.
So, when you have ongoing pain, you get a sensitisation of the nerve pathways to the brain. Think of it as a little track through the bush – it starts out you have to clear your way through, pushing aside the branches and the long grass. But then the more times you walk through the bush along the same path, the grass becomes flattened, the pathway more obvious, the path wider. You keep using the pathway, and now you can go faster, and you can start driving your 4wheel bike along the path. You can get there faster and easier. You keep using the path, and now the path is as wide as a car, the ground hard and flat and the trip is super quick and easy. This is what happens in your body and brain when you have chronic pain – the more the pathway is used, the easier and more efficient your brain becomes at using this track, so it uses it more and more. We call this neural plasticity, and this can be seen clearly on MRI scans of the brain in someone with chronic pain.
When we are at this point, the mechanical injury that started the process may even have resolved, but the pain highway that has become hyper sensitised and so ingrained that it continues to provoke pain responses. So the problem is the wiring of the pain pathways in the brain and at this point, we need to Re-Wire the brain.
Re-wiring the brain is retraining the brain and desensitizing the pain pathway. One of the ways we do this is to change your focus. Think about a large circle of all the activities that you could possibly do. And then think of a little circle inside the big circle, with the activities that you can currently do. Now, most people will focus on all those things outside of their little circle that they CAN’T DO. What we get you to do is to change that focus to look at all the things that you CAN do, the things inside your little circle. We focus on your actions, not your limitations and not your pain. Now gradually, with your medical treatment and using your other treatment strategies we start to increase the things that you can do, and gradually you’ll notice your little circle of achievable things starts to get bigger and bigger, and at the same time, your neural pain pathways which are now being used less frequently are starting to recover, the path in our visualisation is revegetating and returning to its normal state. This can take time, and you will need the support of your medical team along the way, but with help, you can successfully re-wire your brain, and get on top of your chronic pain. Take your life back now!
So if you feel as though this taping could help you out or you would like us to assess your chronic pain then come on down so we can assist you and guide you with your self-management at Lakelands and Miami Physiotherapy.
Miami Ph: 9534 4111
Lakelands Ph: 9542 9999