I am beginning to learn the implications of 'misguided' information and the strong negative effect it can have on some patients. In the last few weeks I have met several patients who have made chronic pain the focus of their existence, I believe fear avoidance plays a big part of this.

One was told erroneous information about an incidental x-ray finding. As a result, very shortly after, his life completely fell apart, due to chronic pain and (I believe, based on information he presented) fear avoidance.

Here is an excerpt from my current reading:
Fear is a powerful motivator. It contributes to how you move, behave, and experience pain. The sources of fear are diverse. Fear may be strongly dependent on context, be obvious or be hidden.

All sorts of fears can lead you into a cycle of pain and disability from which it can be difficult to break free. Some of the information that you receive from health professionals, friends, and the media may contribute to fear. Different fears will be relevant to different people in pain at different times.

However, all of them can be considered under the same banner that we have mentioned repeatedly: your livelihood as a human is under threat. Remember, in persistent pain, when the alarm system and brain are sensitised, all of these fears can help maintain the pain by activating those pain ignition nodes - and set the orchestra up to play the pain tune. Remember that the brain wants to protect you from anything that is dangerous.

To face these fears, you need to be informed and understand as much as possible about your body. And you will need to be brave - this is the vehicle for the road to recovery.

Butler, D., Moseley, L. (2007) Explain Pain Third reprint, p. 100, Adelaide, South Australia, Noigroup Publications

After 6 years and a lot of suffering, he is now under pain clinic care and hopefully in time, this multi-modal intervention will have a positive result on his life. It is going to be a very slow process and require a lot of effort to restore the identity he was robbed of.

Initially I was alarmed by how much had been placed on the words of one health professional and how much now has to be done to undo those ingrained thoughts to get him back to functioning to the best of his ability. I wonder how differently his life would have been had he been informed, firstly with more accurate information and in a way he would understood. People place too much on a diagnosis, too much on structures and phrases and create mental pictures that feed the fear avoidance rather than create active coping strategies.

I could see mirroring of my own situation in what they were telling us (all chronic pain has many similarities) and I hope that because I have been exposed to some knowledge I will not fall into the mindset that some people get stuck in (through not fault of their own, can you imagine dealing with so much pain you don't know what to do and just being given a diagnosis and no useful information on how to cope with it?).

I just need to remind myself not to get too hooked up on the label but to focus more on education, staying positive, setting then reaching goals and exploring the edges of pain to remind myself that in my case, a little pain is not the threat my brain thinks it is.

And never giving up hope, life is still incredibly good!

With this amazing gift I will put all I have into keeping my identity and showing that pain is not my life, just a tiny element and I'm strong enough to step up to the challenge it has created!


Tough Cookie said...

Good for you, girl! See! You are getting there! This disease is very real, but so is the power and strength with in you.

Tough Cookie said...

The interview is up! I think you will be happy with the post :-) You rock!