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Acute and Chronic pain

Most of us will suffer some minor soft-tissue injury (e.g. back pain, neck pain, shoulder strain, etc) at some stage, for which we may seek Osteopathy and/or acupuncture, physiotherapy or other treatment.

Or we may have an acute flare up of a long term problem, and we have to deal with pain and discomfort (e.g. migraine headaches, stress, or back pain) for which physical therapy (e.g. Osteopathy, acupuncture, physiotherapy, massage) might be very helpful.

Fortunately most injuries, and flare ups and acute episodes are self-limiting and resolve themselves — even without treatment — especially in younger people.  But even so, accurate (osteopathic, musculoskeletal and/or medical) evaluation and diagnosis is always a good idea — and nearly always good osteopathy, acupuncture or physical therapy can hopefully shorten recovery time and palliate pain — for why suffer more than one has to? And Osteopathy, by muscle balance, alignment and retraining, may even be able to help prevent recurrence or re-injury in some situations.

So most of us occasionally suffer form self-limiting, short term, occasional pain and poor health. This is 'acute' or temporary pain.

However, there are some instances, where the curative model of healthcare sadly does not always seem to deliver the desired solution, and many people find themselves living in poor health and/or persistent pain. This is termed 'chronic' or long-term pain. Sometimes this will be there, to a greater or lesser extent, for the rest of our lives.

Our doctors will come up with labels like 'fibromyalgia' or 'chronic fatigue', arthritis, or 'neuropathic pain', and we are told that we must learn to live with it. But sadly we are not exactly told how — or given strategies to manage our pain — beyond pharmaceutical medication, which may not do as much as we might hope for.

For example most disc injuries (herniated or prolapsed disc) even with pain down to the foot, numbness or tingling in the toes — most injuries resolve in a few weeks. And with good (osteopathic) management, treatment and appropriate exercise (e.g. pilates and core-strength) afterwards, there is, hopefully, less chance of recurrence. Occasionally,  these or other spinal injuries do not (fully) resolve. Osteopathic treatment and management is probably still a good idea — but one may start moving in the direction of MRI scans and consulting neurosurgeons. There will be a wait time, and mindfulness practice can still be engaged with, hopefully with some benefit.

The Mindfulness-based pain-management approaches and courses help to offer strategies to live better and healthier lives, particularly those with persistent and chronic pain.  Although mindfulness methods can also easily be applied for acute pain that does resolve in a short time.  After all, pain is pain, and anything that helps reduce pain perception can be helpful.

With regular practice, there is good evidence-base (please also refer to the literature mentioned on the next pages) that these methods and training in mindfulness-based pain management, can have excellent long-term outcomes, can change our relationship to pain, and help people live happier healthier lives.

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Email: mikeinmanosteopath at yahoo dot com


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