Understanding Pain - A Brief Overview
by Buffy Owens
Understanding Pain +
What to do about it in less than 5 minutes
This video gives an excellent overview of understanding pain, especially chronic pain. The bulk of the work I do is geared towards helping folks with complex pain implement the lifestyle changes necessary to help them to move beyond pain.
In my experience, most people who experience complex pain do best when addressing their pain on many fronts, most of which are listed in this video. Although this video wasn’t designed with the Feldenkrais Method® in mind, per se, ALL of the highlights of this program resonate with my professional perspective on working with pain.
Highlights From The Video:
Most things in the body are healed after 3-6 months.
Persistent pain, pain that is experienced after this time, is often a result of changes at the level of the nervous system vs. actual damage to the structure. If you peruse this site, you'll see that I often refer to this type of pain as complex pain.
Why use the world complex? Because often there is not just one reason for the pain. Rather, it's a perfect storm of genetic predisposition, our self-image, our mindset, the health of our immune system, neurological factors, and so much more. At first glance, this can seem daunting. However, starting to see all of the factors that can be contributing to our pain also offers us several access points for change.
For instance, in Feldenkrais, we might think about it in terms of how has pain become part of your self-image at the neurological level. Does your system anticipate pain? If so what patterns of movement or organization trigger the ‘anticipation’ and how can we shift it. We might also look at the habits of movement you have developed in response to the pain. These response patterns may have been beneficial at one point in time, but may also be contributing to your pain now.
Medications only help to a certain extent but a more ACTIVE approach is better.
Medications can be great for getting you moving by interrupting the pain response. Unfortunately, medications alone are rarely adequate to manage chronic pain and in some cases, may worsen quality of life. For instance, in some cases, opioids may worsen the pain experience through a process known as “opioidinduced hyperalgesia.” It's important to know and understand the risks and benefits of these medications and how to optimize your time on meds so that you're actively moving towards a lifestyle that will sustain pain changes for the better.
DIET and Lifestyle can have a huge impact on pain.
Diet, sleep, stress, feeling disconnected, all of these can contribute to the inflammatory process. Sometimes doing something as simple as keeping a log of what you eat and when you experience different levels of pain can go a long way in shining the light on what helps and hampers. Same goes for lifestyle. Does sitting in front of your computer for two hours without a break have an impact on your pain? Maybe its 40 minutes. Keeping track can help. Having a mini Awareness Through Movement® lesson, taking a short walk, or shaking your booty to your favorite song during that break can be enough to shift your attention, your ‘posture’, and your pain.
Thoughts, emotions, and beliefs can contribute to pain.
What is your personal story with pain? How is it part of your self-image?
Mindfulness practices such as meditation and Awareness Through Movement can go a long ways towards bringing awareness to and then transforming your thoughts, emotions, and beliefs about pain. Your story can be intertwined with your pain at a physical level. Shift your story, shift the way you respond to pain and to life. The way you respond is absolutely a physical action—shift your physical organization and help to shift your story. PSST….the Feldenkrais Method can help with this.
Physical activity and improved function can help reduce chronic pain!
Movement and improved function is one of the major cornerstones of the Feldenkrais Method! I have to admit that as a Feldenkrais Practitioner®, one of my favorite endeavors is helping students to find a way to take what they learn in private sessions or in classes and apply it to something they are passionate about. This subtle shift from moving away from a stimulus like pain and turning towards a dream is a shift that can have a huge impact on how they move and transform their lives.