What is the first step in recovering from chronic pain?

Written by Jacintha Bell on Chronic Pain.
18th November, 2019.

Chronic Pain is described as pain that last longer than the usual healing time.  This could be anywhere from 3 months to lifelong. Chronic pain affects 20% of people in Australia and it can be a debilitating and very costly condition. There can be many varied causes of chronic pain, such as injury, but sometimes the cause will remain unknown. If you are reading this post, it is possible that you or someone close to you experiences chronic pain.

People with chronic pain might see numerous different health professionals and get lots of differing advice.  It is sometimes difficult to work out what is the right path to take.  When a person with chronic pain first comes in to my office, I ask them about their story, what has happened to them and how it is affecting them.  I often hear words of suffering, despair, confusion and loss of hope.  People will tell me they have been told things like:

“There’s nothing wrong with you”
“You shouldn’t have any pain”
“You should be better by now”
“It’s all in your head”
“I can’t help you”
“You’ll just have to learn to live with it”
“You just need to do more exercise, take this supplement……”

This has often left them questioning and doubting their own experience, and even more confused about what to do about it. People in this circumstance can feel fearful, hopeless and helpless. They are seeking a way to go back to the way they were, before this pain experience began. Many find they are desperately seeking the “cure” that will make this very unpleasant and unwanted pain experience go away. 

The first thing we do as occupational therapists is listen so we can understand your experience, and then we let you know that we understand and believe the experience you have shared with us.  We will also provide a little bit of education or insight in to why or how these things might have happened to you. Then we ask you about your goals and start developing a plan to achieve them. We do all of this with the primary goal of helping you with the first and vital step in recovery from chronic pain – developing a sense of HOPE.

HOPE that recovery from chronic pain is possible
HOPE that you can be in control of their own recovery journey
HOPE that you already have, or can learn, all the things they need to know to recover
HOPE that you will not always feel the way you do right now

And so, this is my first goal as an occupational therapist working with people with chronic pain, to instil a sense of hope that recovery is possible, and empower people with the tools to take charge of their own recovery. Recovery means different things to different people, and may or may not include a resolution of unwanted symptoms, however it always involves living your best life. You may not be able to go back to the way you were before your pain experience, as none of us can go backwards, but by actively taking charge of your journey forwards, you can be even better than you were before.

If you have noticed this is happening in your life, why not give us a call today?  Our team of highly skilled and well experienced occupational therapists are here to help. Call us now and take that first step towards the life you deserve.

What is the first step in recovering from chronic pain?