Throughout our session, with the nurse, we finally focused on the common medications that people with chronic pain are given. Many of us are or were previously on a cocktail of different medications that have not helped our pain and have instead given us multiple different side effects. Many people find painkillers helpful for short-term acute pain as they can target chemicals that are released when tissue damage happens and limits the pain-producing effect they may have on our body. Chronic pain is a more complex problem and painkillers are generally not the answer. There is, unfortunately, no pain-killer that can cure chronic pain in the same way that an antibiotic can cure an infection. Most of the tablets prescribed tend to be anticonvulsants that act on the brain and the central nervous system to ‘damp down’ pain messages that are associated with nerve pain. Some people find that these tablets may take the edge off the pain but, will have to increase the dosage when they no longer get this slight relief.
During our 2 sessions of physio, we learnt about the multiple areas of the brain that make up the experience of pain. Conditions such as Fibromyalgia seem to stem from a hypersensitivity of the nervous system, sometimes known as Central Sensitisation. As the brain has the ability to send information to the peripheral nerve to stop the signal of pain it can also increase it. The brain draws upon factors such as past experience, knowledge, previous behaviours etc, so if something has caused you pain previously, the brain will construct our experience of pain. We also practised some mindfulness which I am not convinced by. We were told to embrace our pain as it moves throughout our body instead of ignoring it which is not something I like doing.
Our occupational therapy session focused on bringing our attention to when problems arise and learning to acknowledge what small changes you can make. Little steps in the right direction and better than no steps.
During our 2 sessions of psychology, we concentrated on the relationship between the mind and the body and what pain actually is. The definition of pain is “an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage, or described in terms of such damage”.
After a long day my mum, dad, brother and boyfriend came to visit which really lifted my spirits and gave me someone to vent to. Having a great support network has really helped me push through and not give up.