How Chronic Pain Treatment Fails, Learn to Overcome Your Diagnosis!
a little itch,
Right at the tip of your nose, do you feel it?
You want to scratch it.
C' mon it will feeeeeel soooo good, just give it a little scratch.
Whether or not you felt the itch, the point is if you focus on something long enough, your brain can make it a reality. If you can get an itch from our suggestion, is it any wonder if all we ever focus on is our pain, that it never gets better?
Chronic pain actually has the power to change our brain's chemistry over time. Often, chronic pain sufferers can be completely healed of their previous injuries and claim to still feel pain. This is why traditional interventions like NSAIDs, opioids, and surgery can’t address the underlying issues with chronic pain.
Thankfully, science is beginning to fight fire with fire. Using the power of the brain, studies are now being conducted to create cognitive and behavioral therapies to reverse pains changes. These therapies are aimed at providing another means of solving the chronic pain epidemic.
The Pain and Problem with Medicine
If pain is made in the brain, can it be unmade? If so, then why do we go to a doctor who isn’t an expert in pain, or the brain, to try and diagnose our chronic ailment? Why do we allow this doctor to make guesses, then accept a prescribed treatment dictated by weak evidence or an insurance policy?
I get it, that was a lot of questions. But it’s crucial that you take control and start asking more questions when it comes to your care. Challenge what you are told and be informed. Do it yourself, because no one is going to do it for you.
Wait. Do What Myself?!?!
Chronic Pain is Hard to Diagnose
Why is that? Well, it doesn’t really obey the rules. If you fall and scrape your knee, that pain is pretty understandable. But lingering pain that you cant exactly pinpoint is different. Somewhere, there is a person with the same diagnosis you have, in no pain at all. Somewhere else, another is suffering excruciating pain from it. To make it worse, there is someone out there with your exact issue that doesn’t even know they have it. Bottom line, pain is unique and the same ‘diagnosis' can manifest in many different levels of severity. This is why it is so hard to treat.
Chronic pain does not obey the rules! So you shouldn’t either.
Known as pain sensitivity or subjectivity, this is why science and medicine are having a rough time diagnosing and managing pain. What feels awful to you can feel just fine to someone else. Makes sense why there are so many different options to treat the same pain yet most of them are failing.
If they did work I wouldn't be writing about this, and you wouldn't be reading.
Since chronic pain is playing dirty; it's time you roll up your sleeves and get to work on yourself. Because no one and nothing has the power to do so but you!
Your Diagnosis Doesn’t Matter
We have written extensively on the subject here. To summarize, a chronic pain diagnosis is a guess. You went to the doctor and asked what's wrong, so they gave you an answer. YES!! Finally! All of your answers have been solved. Your pain fades away as you skip off into the sunset with your diagnosis.
This educated guess comes with a standard treatment protocol, to address the symptoms, not the root cause. This standard includes NSAIDS, Physical Therapy, Prescription Drugs, and eventually injections or surgery. A treatment protocol which is MASSIVELY FAILING!
What is Medicine Missing?
Modern medicine is designed to treat your back, your knee, your shoulder, but it isn’t treating you.
It isn't treating YOU, the entire person. Mind, Body, and Soul. Your back works synergistically with your hips, your shoulder with your scapula, and your knee with your hip and ankle. The mind and body are connected, they are not working in isolation.
You won't heal if your mind doesn't believe you will. Even worse, your body can’t heal if it keeps moving the same way and if you don't have a support system around you when things get tough, your heart simply won't be in it for the long haul.
So then why does medicine treat the part and not the whole?
That's what they have been trained to do. It works for a lot of things, don’t get me wrong, but chronic pain is not one of them. In fact, veterinarians have more training in pain management than general physicians do. Umm what!? That's right, your pooch has a better chance of getting its pain solved than you do.
Harness the Power of the Mind
There is no shortage of people trying to sell you “alternative” approaches to healing your pain. Using chakras and crystals to align your 3rd eye and heal you with energy spirtis. Although on the hippy-dippy side of things, they are knocking on a very particular door: The power of beleif.
The brain is capable of some downright breathtaking things when it has a little nudging in the right direction. We’ve written at length on the advancements of specific cognitive and behavioral therapies and how those therapies impact chronic pain sufferers. Basically, the mind and its thoughts have the power to prepare the body to heal; when paired with proper movement.
Here’s something new for you to nibble on, however, and this has a little more historical depth to it than the nuerological studies we keep referencing.
Change Theory, which is just downright boring, is something psychologists use to explain the process of behavior change. There’s a much more complicated version of this theory with more steps and really big words, but we’re sparing you from that. We’re giving you the fun version known as the Lewin Change Theory! It has pictures thats why we like it!
Change Theory and Chronic Pain
Unfreezing your pain. This is where you’re tearing down the old you, and we all know unthawing takes patience and time — think about your 20-pound turkey on Thanksgiving or when an ice cube just won't fit into your water bottle, you can either force it and risk cracking the bottle, or you can run it under water to change its shape.
Relearning how to move and think differently in regards to your pain requires patience! If pills, shots, and surgery are the equivalent to forcing the ice cube into the cracked bottle, movement and alignment are patience and hot water, changing you into the proper form.
Changing your relationship to pain. In this phase of the Change Theory, you’re building something new from the ground up. Only when the time has been put in can something begin to take on a new shape. Think about building a new house from the foundation — the foundation, the plumbing, and the wiring are the longest part of the build! But they’re some of the most important parts so that you have a strong, stable house that lasts for years.
Refreezing into a new shape. This is the new you with a new relationship to pain. Now that the proper conditions have been met, — you have learned how to move, and how to think — you can take that with you for the rest of your life. The foundation is solid, the ice has frozen into the right shape for the bottle, any other metaphors we can use for this?
Reshaping You: Mind & Body
Once you start addressing your body with curiosity rather than fear, everything changes.
-Bessel A. Van Der Kolk
Forget the diagnosis, forget the prescription. Stop looking for external solutions without doing some internal work first. How do you think, how do you move, how do you breathe? Are your thoughts, your activities your relationships governed by pain? Medical interventions will always be an option and will only improve with time. Get curious, take ownership, and explore all the possibilities to heal that you have available to you.
However, if you are familiar with us and have not checked out our program and are still in pain…what are you waiting for? Waiting for the pain to get worse? Don't be the person that wished they did this years ago. The first day of the rest of your life could start today!
David Schroer is a certified personal trainer and corrective exercise specialist. At the age of 21 a serious car accident left him with 3 disc herniations along with crippling pain and sciatica. After 5 years, exhausting all funds and non-invasive options he embarked on a 10 year long journey to heal his body via movement and strengthening. Together with MoveU, their mission is to spread the message that you have the power to Fix Yo Shit!