“Turn down that noise!”
Imagine listening to a screeching, static-filled, annoying radio station all day every day. The experience of chronic pain is exactly like this. The difference is that you can’t always turn the ‘noise’ down.
When we’re in pain, the first thing we normally think of is how to turn it off, or at least turn it down. That’s natural since pain is a signal from your body to take action.
But what most people do is settle for periods of intermittent relief. They take an over the counter pain medicine or a pain-reliever their doctor prescribed and hope for the best. Sometimes the medication works, but usually only for a while. Then they have to take more. In the worst circumstances, they get no relief even if they increase the dosage.
But even when this approach works, at best it’s like turning the irritating music down, knowing it will get turned back up again in a little while. Over time this cycle of on-and-off pain wears them down.
When people come to my office for pain relief, I usually ask, “Would you rather keep turning down the annoying noise over and over again, or would you like to pull the plug so it never comes back?”
You can probably guess that most people would rather pull the plug on the pain for good.
But pulling the plug on chronic pain and health issues isn’t as simple as swallowing a pill. Fortunately it’s not complicated either. It requires only two things:
- Paying attention
- Making changes
Even though there are only two steps, sometimes this is enough to stop people from doing what’s necessary to eliminate their pain for good. And that’s a shame because it’s not difficult to take these two steps so long as you know:
- What to pay attention to.
- Which changes to make.
People who don’t know these two key details frequently feel overwhelmed. I see this frequently in my clinic. People come in because they are overwhelmed by their pain. It limits them and distracts them from living their lives. The thought of having to endure this pain for years on end is depressing.
In addition, they’ve usually tried a variety of treatments (without success), done research on their own and received advice from friends and family. Information from all these sources often contradicts one another and creates confusion. With all these sources of information, it’s no wonder they don’t know what to focus on or what to change.
But it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. In fact, if you can answer the following questions, it’s often possible to quickly zero in on the factors that keep the pain from healing:
- What time of day is the pain worse, morning, evening, night or all day?
- Is the pain better or worse with activity? Does the intensity of the activity affect this? Do some activities affect it more than others?
- What parts of life does the pain affect most (work, sleep, relaxing, etc.)?
- Does heat or cold make it better or worse?
- Have there been any drastic interventions, such as surgery, to attempt to eliminate the pain?
- Is the pain constant or does it increase and decrease in intensity over time? If it varies, what is the average time it takes to cycle through the increase and decrease?
- Are there any obvious food related triggers for the pain?
If someone isn’t clear about the answers, then the above list helps them pay closer attention to the signals their body is giving them. When we have answers to these questions, it is usually possible to quickly determine what changes should be made.
Let me know if you have questions by commenting below.
All the best to you for your health and happiness,