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Tips to help you understand your pain

14 million people in the UK suffer from persistent pain, so what is persistent pain and how does it differ from acute pain?

Understanding Acute pain

Acute pain is typically short term and helps us learn from painful experience. The body does this as a protective mechanism and as part of the healing process.

This type of injury often has a rapid onset and creates useful pain. Inflammation is likely to occur in the form of swelling, bruising and redness. In most cases this type of pain has a clear diagnosis and cause. The healing time for this type of injury should fall within 6-12 weeks.

What can you do to help?

1. Avoid the cause of pain/ injury

2. Use ice and heat (see below for guidance on ice and heat application)

3. Light activity

4. Anti-inflammatory and analgesics as guidelines state – if taking for longer than 3 days consult your doctor

Understanding Persistent pain

Persistent pain is classified chronic once it last greater than 3-6 months. As persistent pain stretches past this time frame there is no clear beneficial purpose of pain being present or productive in the recovery process.

The pain experienced is linked to muscle memory of previous injury and replicated the pain experience in what are now non-threatening events. This increased sensitivity of the nervous system can be referred to as central sensitisation and is responsible for a fluctuating symptom pattern with no clear reason for cause or onset.

What factors contribute to Persistent Pain?

1. Stress levels

2. Tension in surrounding and connecting muscles of the symptomatic area

3. Thinking about pain

4. Immobility

5. Over-activity

What can you do to help?

1. Relaxation

2. Distraction techniques

3. Cognitive behavioural therapy

4. Mindfulness

5. Progressive muscle relaxation

6. Graded exercise – gradual return to activity to allow the body to adapt to demands put on it, especially if you have been inactive due to pain

7. Pacing yourself

Can an Osteopath help?

Osteopaths are trained medical professionals in the diagnosis and treatment of a wide range of medical conditions, including symptoms such as acute and persistent pain.

Your Osteopath will undertake a thorough examination including a postural assessment, range of movement and some symptoms may require neurological testing and blood pressure readings to be taken.

Treatment may be achieved through hands on treatment using techniques such as stretching, soft tissue, articulation and manipulation to promote recovery and prevention of symptom return.

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