Pappas OPT in the News – Managing Chronic Pain
Managing chronic pain
Article originally published in Rhody Health January 2021 print edition.
Learn more about chronic pain in Mike Pappas’ article ‘Managing chronic pain’ in Rhody Health‘s January 2021 print edition and below.
Chronic pain can be devastating and severely impact your life. You’ve tried everything: pills, miracle cures, injections and you wonder if you’ll have to live like this forever.
Pain is tricky. It’s different for every human, and every human responds to pain differently. Acute pain is typically caused by tissue damage. Most of the time, once tissues heal, the pain goes away. However, for some people, even though tissues are healed, the pain does not go away. The nervous system ramps up and over-responds. This is considered chronic pain.
The natural response for a body in pain is to stop moving. This is true for both acute and chronic issues and it’s nothing more than our protective instinct saying, “Hey, that’s not safe,” as if your mother was giving you a gentle warning. After a few days, we return to our normal movement and routines. But with chronic issues, that voice becomes louder, like when your mother calls your first AND middle name. That’s when things begin to get serious. Your brain is simply trying to get your attention.
Chronic pain is complex. On one hand, you have John who broke his leg and recovered easily after surgery and rehab. On the other hand, you have Jane, who has never broken a bone or been in an accident but suffers from chronic back pain that has persisted for years. Why? Because chronic pain is an experience, not a tissue issue. Chronic pain evolves due to the over-amplification of our nervous system’s response to a perceived threat. It can be magnified due to physical and emotional stress. Many see this as bad news, losing hope they’ll recover, but there is good news.
Chronic pain is an imperfection in the mind-body relationship, relief comes from reestablishing that relationship. Your therapist can help you design a plan of action. You may find yourself mixing exercise and manual therapy with virtual reality (VR) to re-train your brain and body.
Advances in neuroscience have refined our understanding of chronic pain. Our physical and occupational therapists will do an evaluation and identify causes and contributors to the pain. Once your goals are clear and a treatment plan is designed, VR and pain neuroscience interventions can be integrated into one of your regular, activity-based sessions. Chronic pain can be reduced, managed, or sometimes eliminated with pain neuroscience education.
Virtual Reality has been shown to be effective in helping individuals with chronic pain! Technology has made breakthroughs with helping us understand our bodies, movement, and pain. Think of this experience as a high-tech version of meditation. Through the headset, you’ll see familiar scenes and visually engaging experiences designed to help you take control of the pain. You will soon find out that you have some authority over your pain. Now, that’s good news!
This cutting-edge program is exclusive to our clinics, unique in our region, and our therapists have been specially trained and certified in Pain Neuroscience Education and VR technology.