The power of reassurance in reducing pain
Every Saturday and Sunday morning I get similar calls.
A trembling voice fighting, back tears as I can feel their anxiety creeping down the phone at me.
Now there are no stereotypes here.
It can affect men and women the same. Pain and fear engulf people as they feel completely out of control of their pain.
We keep emergency appointments and try to increase our hours to accommodate these patients in urgent need.
Their stories usually echo a common pattern.
“I awoke at 4am. I haven’t been able to sleep at all. ”
Sleep deprived and struggling to get symptoms under control can be a very scary position.
Many people have never felt experienced severe pain and with out a clear diagnosis our mind can wander to all sorts of extreme thoughts. An hour on Dr. google and we have convinced ourself we have a weird disease that 0.00002% of the population has.
The thing it.
Pain doesn’t accurately equate to tissue damage.
I’ll say that again because its a weird concept.
Pain doesn’t give accurate representation of tissue damage.
Let me explain.
We know that you can get extreme pain when there is no limb attached ( such as phantom limb pain in amputees). So we know pain can exist with NO tissue damage (because the limb isn’t even there!)
For tissue damage we would expect some level of trauma such as a fall, accident or force that could cause muscle or soft tissue tears.
If pain has appeared relatively suddenly following a ‘tweak’ such as in your back or neck your pain is most likely caused by muscle spasm.
Now don’t get me wrong that can be VERY painful. But its isn’t because the tissue has been damaged ( i.e. torn or inured as such) it is just that the muscles are in span and you are experience pain due to schema ( lack of blood and oxygen)
That is why its important to move as much as you can.
Pain is complex and thats why its important to get clear advice early on.
As I talk to these clients over the phone I can feel them relaxing and imagine their muscles to be doing the same as I offer reassurance based on their mechanism.
We have clear questions that help us to understand whether something needs urgent onward referral or not.
Often people are not sure if physio are the best people to call when in extreme pain. My advice would be that its worth giving us a call. We can talk you through questions to see whether you need to see a doctor and then work out the best treatment for you. We offer a wide variety of treatments even if the pain is very severe we have electrotherapy that can be used to give you relief in the acute phase.
Don’t forget just by getting an expert opinion it can help reduce your pain by giving reassurance its not anything serious.