If you have a loved one who lives with chronic pain, one of the most important things you can do is ensure that they feel connected. Invite them to events, and accept that when they can’t come, its not because they don’t want to. Find ways to be involved in their life without increase the demands on the body.
Be understanding that some days they may have greater capacity than others. Do not judge them by their good days, and don’t exclude them based on their bad days.
Just remember, its not about trying to fix them; its about helping them to connect to the world around them, helping them to feel involved and returning to them a sense of control.
As a healthcare professional, how can I help a patient who suffers from chronic pain? By building a connection with them. By developing a relationship based on trust and understanding that helps the patient to feel more in control of their pain, their body, and their future.
If you are suffering from chronic pain and are feeling disconnected, visit the Chronic Pain Australia website https://chronicpainaustralia.org.au/ or look them up on social media.
We would also love to see you in the clinic where we can help you to learn more about how you can regain control of your pain, so that you can return to doing the things you love, with the people you love.
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In life we are connected to many things at different times. Our most meaningful connections come from our friends and family. Unfortunately, for those with chronic pain, these connections can feel damaged. Pain can make you feel isolated or lonely. This can be both real or perceived and only becomes more common with age, just as rates of chronic pain increase with age.
A sense of connection is vital for those suffering from chronic pain. Being in a constant, or near constant state of pain decreases opportunities for social interaction and involvement in group activities. Often this can be due to a lack of understanding from friends and family as to how pain impacts an individual’s life and function. It can be very challenging to understand how it feels to live with chronic pain if you have not experienced it. This loss of understanding leads to feelings of isolation: from the community, from friends, and even from family. People with chronic pain often feel as though they should just ‘get over it’ or ‘push through the pain’. However, this often only leads to an increase in pain and further isolation.
This feeling of disconnect is also common when seeking professional help. Its not uncommon for people with chronic pain to feel ostracised or dismissed by the medical community. For effective treatment of chronic pain conditions and disorders health professionals need to understand the importance of connection in treatment. That is connection between themselves and the person in pain, as well as connection to other members of the healthcare team; always with the patient at the centre, calling the shots.
Another level of connection that is important when talking about chronic pain is a person’s connection to their own body and psychological state. Its important to develop an understanding of our own pattern of pain. Knowing exactly much you can do without causing a flare up of pain is a vital part rebuilding connection with others. It can also help to provide you to build your ability to own your pain, rather than letting your pain own you. People suffering from chronic pain can feel like they have no control over their lives. Gaining a better connection and understanding of their pain can help to return a sense of control to those who may have felt that they had none.
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We all know someone who suffers from chronic pain. 1 in 5 Australians suffer from it with that number increasing to 1 in 3 over the age of 65. Chronic pain conditions include many diagnoses; from those widely recognised with clear bio-mechanical causes such as; arthritis (osteo and rheumatoid), osteoporosis, MS, nerve damage, etc; to those we are rapidly developing our understanding of like chronic lower back pain, and polymyalgia rheumatica; and those whose causes still largely mystify the medical community: fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, chronic regional pain syndrome.
It is generally considered chronic, or persistent pain, when it lasts for more than 3 months, or longer than the tissues would normally take to heal. Chronic pain is felt differently by every person. It can be mild or quite severe, sharp or blunt and achy. For most people with chronic pain, it is felt on most days and can very in intensity depending on how much and what type of activity the individual does on that day.
As we mentioned in the previous blog, pain signals are carried by nervous system to the brain to indicate danger and/or damage. This isn’t always the case with chronic pain. During chronic pain, our body will send these pain signals even though there is no risk to tissues or long after the initial injury has healed. Sometimes these pain signals even get mixed up and start coming from a different part of the body to where the initial injury was located.
With this sort of pain, it is important to have a multidisciplinary approach. This means involving more than one type of healthcare professional in a person’s care. As more than 40% of chronic pain patients admitted to hospital with chronic pain have a diagnosis involving the muscles and/or bones, physiotherapists are often a key member of the multidisciplinary healthcare team for chronic pain. Studies have also shown that a graded approach to exercise can be crucial in decreasing pain, increasing function, and improving an individual’s quality of life.
Chronic pain can be like a roller coaster where an individual will feel good one day and terrible the next. This often occurs when someone feels well and tries to get as much done as they can whilst they feel well…only to over do it and be in intense pain the next day. This becomes a roller coaster of pain and dysfunction. One of the most effective treatments for this pattern of pain is graded exercises. This involves first discovering how much exercise or other work they can do without suffering from a flare-up soon after. Using this as a baseline, we can very slowly increase the amount of exercise that a person can tolerate before flare-up. This technique has proven to be very effective when accompanied by education and advice of a trained healthcare professional. Or better yet, a team of trained healthcare professionals.
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Acute pain: Causes and treatments
Pain is a message sent via the nervous system from an injured body part to the brain. This pain signal usually signals to the brain that the body’s tissues are being damaged or are in danger of being damaged.
Acute pain is caused by damage to the tissues through injury, inflammation or an active disease process. Acute pain generally passes as the affected tissues heal and rarely lasts longer than 3 months. The rate of healing, and therefore pain reduction, is dependent on which tissue is damaged.
Causes of acute pain include things like
During a period of acute pain, it is important to be fully assessed by a professional to ascertain the cause of your pain and commence treatment as soon as appropriate for your injury. This will ensure that an acute injury does not later become chronic pain.
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An INTRO TO PAIN
Today we kick off the beginning of National Pain Week. Over the course of the following week, we will be releasing a series of blogs centring around pain and its many causes and dimensions.
This year the topic for National Pain Week is CONNECTION. Pain, and especially chronic pain, can lead to increased levels of social isolation. The aim of National Pain Week this year is to bring awareness of the impact that social isolation has on those suffering from persistent and chronic pain. We particularly want to remind family, friends and health professionals just how powerful connection can be for those suffering from chronic pain.
Pain is defined as "an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with, or resembling that associated with, actual or potential tissue damage" by the International Association for the Study of Pain.
Pain is not the simple, straight forward process that we often think it to be. It is diverse and can mean many different things to different people. We generally think of pain as our body’s way of saying ‘STOP’ or ‘DAMAGE’. This is true of acute pain, but in chronic, or persistent pain, this isn’t always true. Sometimes it is simply our body’s way of saying ‘I’m scared’ or ‘last time we did this it hurt’. In these situations, the body may benefit from gentle re-education, under the guidance of a trained professional.
Follow us over the next week to learn more about the differences between acute and chronic pain, how they can be treated effectively, the importance of connection, and how you can help someone suffering from chronic pain.
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Tablelands Sports & Spinal Physiotherapy is an established Allied Health Practice in Lithgow, just over the Blue Mountains, NSW and home to many adventure sports.
We are a multidisciplinary team made up of Physios, Exercise Physiologists, Occupational Therapist, Massage Therapist and Dietitian.
Tablelands Physio is known for delivering excellent client outcomes in a professional and friendly environment. The practice has been established for over 15 years and we are continuing to expand due to a growing network of clients, referrers, and an excellent community reputation for providing evidence-based treatment.
With the challenges of COVID-19 we are adapting and changing the way we manage our clients and providing exceptional care to the people of Lithgow and rural areas to help them manage their pain and to achieve their health goals.
We are looking for our next dedicated and experienced Physio to help our practice grow. We will also consider new graduates who are keen to learn.
There is plenty of scope for you to build your ideal client case-load, in fact we encourage you to do just that.
The right Physio for our team:
- Enjoys working with a varied population, from elite sports people to the elderly;
- Has a focus on hands-on, advice and exercise based management;
- Is good at communicating and networking;
- Is always thinking and doing one step ahead;
- Has a high level of empathy and emotional intelligence;
- A keenness to get in and work hard to build your list and promote the practice;
- Would like flexible work hours and a great work-life balance;
- Telehealth experience or keenness to learn;
- Fabulous personality that fits well within a team environment and patients love;
- Current AHPRA (Physiotherapy) registration, professional indemnity insurance ($20mill) and Work Cover approved.
If this sounds like a position you would be interested in and you are ready to dedicate yourself to our team long-term, please do not hesitate to apply by sending your resume and cover letter to firstname.lastname@example.org
We are looking forward to meeting our next fab Physio!
Shin splints, AKA medial stress syndrome, is categorised by a variable intensity of diffused pain on the inside of the lower leg/shin. Shin splints usually show themselves the night after exercising or the next morning - exercise usually decreases the pain of shin splints as you warm up.
Shin splints oftentimes can develop into a stress fracture. Stress fractures are localised, acute or sharp pain that gets worse as you exercise.
A physio will help you determine what the cause is of this stress reaction. Some common causes include:
- Overload: how much exercise/sport you are undertaking
- Change in exercise type/load
- Type of shoes
- Strength and control
- Muscle flexibility (ie. calf tightness)
If you are experiencing shin pain please reach out to a Physiotherapist to help you develop a plan to help you get back to exercise pain free.
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Many of us find it more difficult to maintain a regular exercise regime in the winter months. The reasons are fairly obvious, it’s cold and people want to spend less time outside and are also less likely get in the car to drive to the gym during the cold, short and dark days of winter. There are many reasons why it is important to maintain your exercise regime through the winter months, the reasons being if you reduce your activity levels you will likely see:
Below are some of the benefits of exercising in cold weather and the importance of being active through winter:
1. Being cold!
Simply exposing the body to cold temperatures by exercising in cold weather stimulates thermogenesis, which refers to the bodies ability to generate its own heat. This seems fairly obvious and probably uninteresting, but cold induced thermogenesis, particularly when paired with the general benefits of an exercise session, has been shown to improve mood and energy levels, improve cognition, lead to better sleep, and improved immunity, and is now being investigated as a useful “anti-ageing” tool.
2. Immune health
Regular exercise is well established as a potent tool to improve immune function, which is particularly important in flu season, and of course in the age of COVID. This is due to an increase in the circulation of immune cells acutely after an exercise bout, a reduction in stress hormones with regular exercise, and by mitigating against the ageing related decline in immune function.
If you enjoy exercising outdoors, taking advantage of sunny days during winter is helpful to ensure your body is able to produce enough vitamin D, which is associated with reduced risk of osteoporosis, depression, and some cancers.
4. Mental Health
Ceasing or limiting your exercise in winter, along with general reductions in activity through the day as we spend more time indoors, can lead to issues with mood regulation and for many people increase symptoms of depression and anxiety. The release of endorphins and the reduction of stress hormones improve your mood, however consistency is key to ensure the long term benefits are achieved. Maintaining your normal routine will help you maintain your motivation and ensure you do not lose hard earned improvements through the winter months.
If you have any questions about the information above, or would like to make a booking with an Exercise Physiologist or Physiotherapist to assist you with your exercise programming through
winter, get in touch on 6352 3131, or book online at:
Accredited Exercise Physiologist
M.Clin.Ex.Phys, B.Sp.&Ex.Sci. AEP, AES, ESSAM
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