Over the years the scientific understanding of "unexplained" chronic pain has increased. Some examples of "unexplained" chronic pain include conditions such as chronic low back pain or chronic whiplash or fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome.
The research now shows that a concept of central sensitization is the underlying cause of this "unexplained" phenomena. Central sensitization is a process where the brain is receiving too many messages from the nerves to inform the brain that there is a problem with the body, which causes an over-sensitization of the problem.The brain is being over-bombarded with alarm bells that there is something wrong with the body.
By being educated on this concept and how central sensitization works can help to improve understanding of pain and how pain works.
A review on chronic unexplained pain discusses practice guidelines for explaining "unexplained" pain. This educational process involves two sessions lasting 30 minutes each approximately.
The first step in this process is to meet face-to face with a therapist in order to improve your knowledge on pain inlcuding:
- how the brain perceives pain
- the difference between acute and chronic pain
- the purpose of acute pain and how acute pain originates in the nervous system
- how pain becomes chronic
- how other factors such as stress can influence this pain
Educational resources such as "Explain Pain" booklet are useful resources in changing perceptions of pain and helping to improve health status. This booklet covers the basic concepts of the nervous system and the pain system and reinforces what was spoken about in the first session.
The second session with the therapist will involve a questionnaire to examine the clients understanding. The therapist will revise the key concepts and discuss how this information can be applied to everyday situations in order to help achieve pain coping strategies and self management programs.
Ideally this information is best presented before commencing active treatment and rehabilitation, in order to improve the outcomes of therapy. After all, knowledge is power.
by Tricia Murphy.