When do we seek help?
I am interested in the point at which an individual decides that they need help. The timeline varies enormously from the initial feeling of pain to years of discomfort that finally become intolerable or limiting. Each person will have their own view that is grooved by prior experiences, culture, beliefs about health and pain, access to healthcare, the impact that the problem is having upon lifestyle and tolerance of the pain at any given moment. These factors blend to create the individual’s experience of pain that contains their own personal meaning, or lack of, the sensory and emotional dimensions.
The initial meeting presents the opportunity to explore the story of the problem. It is not just about the pain but how it affects the person, those around him or her and the interactions with their environments. The brain, the body and the environment are co-dependent and influence each other, described by Nobel Prize winner Gerald Edelman as the econiche. Each must be explored within the context of the narrative to gain an insight into the reasons for seeking help.
Over the desk I hear people tell me that they have had enough, previous treatment hasn’t worked, surgery has failed, their spouse is sick of the moaning, they cannot play with the kids, work or play sports. They have reached their coping threshold and now want change.
In most cases, the story extends into the past, sometime before the patient arrives. The problem may have been ignored or attempts have been made to ease the symptoms. The majority whom I see will have had numerous attempts to get better via medical or surgical routes but with limited or no success. This leads to frustration, anger, lowered expectations, all of which can be understood. We must also acknowledge that the body and the brain have really tried to deal with the problem but require increasing conscious involvement to move forward. The lack of progress usually means that the biology of pain has not been fully targeted, along with the vast array of individual influences upon the pain. The need for a comprehensive approach is tantamount to success in changing pain and one’s ability to engage with life once more.
The first meeting is a point in time. This is not in isolation to the complete story, similarly for the physical assessment that is a snapshot of what is going on at that particular moment. With pain and body physiology changing from moment to moment as the systems respond to the internal and external environments. The interactions of brain-body-environment are fundamental to the expression of how we feel and experience the world around us. The brain is constructing all that we experience, hence the significance of this organ when addressing pain.
So when do we seek help? This is individual and based upon our beliefs about ourselves, the world and our health. These are not separate entities but rather consistently interacting modules. Thinking in these terms helps us to devise a route forward and a way of creating the right conditions for the body systems to change in the way they are functioning. We are designed to evolve, change, grow and develop. Comprehensively addressing pain and the influences upon pain provides a tangible, measurable and effective way forward, whenever the patient decides it is the right time to engage.
For further information about our comprehensive treatment and training programmes for chronic pain, please call us now on 07932 689081 and discover how you can change and move on.