Persistent pain (also called chronic pain), is pain that last longer than the normal healing time. Often this is considered to be pain that last longer than three months. There are numerous persistent pain conditions, including fibromyalgia, lower back pain, migraines, neuropathies, and complex regional pain syndrome. Some persistent pain condition arise from injuries, or underlying health conditions. For other conditions, it might be difficult to ascertain the underlying cause. There is no doubt however that persistent pain can have a big impact on what you are able to do, and this is where occupational therapists can help.
Our occupational therapists can provide a thorough understanding of the impact that pain has on a person’s usual daily functioning. We use occupational therapy tools such as the Canadian Occupational Performance Measure to asses areas of self-care, productivity (work/study) and leisure. We may also objectively assess a person’s ability to perform tasks in many environments, such as at home or work, not just in a clinic.
Following this our occupational Therapists work with people and sometimes their family/carers. We focus on minimising pain, and enabling participation in meaningful activities. Our treatments are relevant to chronic pain in a range of specialist areas not just specifically pain management, but also palliative care, neurological rehabilitation, mental health rehabilitation and occupational (work) rehabilitation. Some of the interventions we may use include:
- Neuroscience based pain education
- Functional goal setting
- Sensory integration/ processing / modulation
- Sensory Re-education
- Provision of assistive devices to support function
- Creation of daily routines to support the adaption of habits and roles
- Incorporating psychology based techniques into daily occupations to support pain management such as: goal setting, acceptance and commitment therapy, cognitive restructuring, distraction, relaxation, grief and loss support and mindfulness strategies.
- Incorporating current neuroscience evidence into occupational therapy approaches. This includes use of graded motor imagery, body schema distortion, pain empathy, cognitive impairment secondary to pain, effects of poor sleep and medication.
- Use of biofeedback techniques to support improved awareness of activity performance. This may include use of mirrors, EMG biofeedback machines, heart rate monitors, activity monitors, Apps and diaries.
- Provision of chronic disease self-management approaches such as: joint protection, back care, ergonomic principles d. sleep hygiene, e. energy conservation, pacing education/ self-regulation, flare up management, intimacy and sexuality
- Reintegration to work and productive roles.
- Reintegration to schooling and study from high school through to university level education.
- Community integration – safe access to the community and services, including driving, public transport use and computer use
- Facilitate health literacy and advocacy to enable people to explore, locate and access services within their local community that support their mental and physical health.
- Interactive neurostimulation.