WIN a Fitbit Sense health smartwatch, with tools for stress management
WIN a Fitbit Sense health smartwatch, with tools for stress management

IMAGE

Tom Ford’s new leather scent is as sophisticated as they come
Tom Ford’s new leather scent is as sophisticated as they come

Holly O'Neill

How to deal with failure: 4 tips on how to recover from a setback
How to deal with failure: 4 tips on how to recover from a setback

Colette Sexton

The ‘Friends’ cast just launched their first official limited-edition merch collection
The ‘Friends’ cast just launched their first official limited-edition merch collection

Sarah Finnan

A shared gold medal and an Olympic knitter: The most heartwarming moments from the Olympics so far
A shared gold medal and an Olympic knitter: The most heartwarming moments from the Olympics...

Sarah Finnan

Sustainable Irish sleepwear brands to help you catch some zs
Sustainable Irish sleepwear brands to help you catch some zs

Sarah Finnan

Andrew McGinley: ‘I cannot forgive the act of murder. I can’t forgive how my children died’
Andrew McGinley: ‘I cannot forgive the act of murder. I can’t forgive how my children...

Amanda Cassidy

What actually consitutes self-care when you’re a mother
What actually consitutes self-care when you’re a mother

Sophie White

The expert guide to your hair problems, from thinning hair to heat damage
The expert guide to your hair problems, from thinning hair to heat damage

Melanie Morris

Best hotel restaurants: 16 places to add to your Irish staycation bucket list
Best hotel restaurants: 16 places to add to your Irish staycation bucket list

Sarah Finnan

Image / Agenda / Image Writes

‘I’ve had sessions for decades. It’s helped me the most out of anything’


by Jennifer McShane
15th Sep 2020
blank

Chronic or persistent pain is something that, according to a recent study by Brian Purcell Communications (BPC), 14% of adults have suffered from for more than 10 years. Being in pain – especially if it’s a hidden illness – can have a massive impact on an individuals quality of life and mental wellbeing (75% claim theirs has been affected). 


I’ve been getting physiotherapy on and off since I was around three years old. Diagnosed with cerebral palsy at two and then persistent pelvic pain at 21 means that for over three decades combined, I’ve been relying on a physiotherapist to improve my quality of life.

I never went to doctors about any muscle pain, and I was never on medication for anything prolonged; I went to physios, not to a GP. Daily, weekly, monthly exercises (my poor mother did the bulk of the toing-and-froing) after school and then before work was my norm. Up until I turned 21, the hourly sessions were a constant. This, in combination with a few heavy surgeries, is the only reason that now, in 2019, I’m not wheelchair-bound.

Physio has had a life-changing effect on my day-to-day. I’ve had sessions on-and-off for decades.

It’s enabled me to walk (mostly) pain-free.

To see things, work, travel, live.

Related: Exhausted with unexplained pain? You could have haemochromatosis

The sessions tapered until I was diagnosed with chronic/ persistent pelvic pain just after I turned 21 and that’s when I altered my usual route. I went to my GP weekly trying to figure out the reasons for this very sudden onslaught of pain (so much so, they didn’t have the heart to charge me full price every time). I saw multiple specialists who were all very nice, but just kept giving me pain medication, telling me to give it time and take the tablets.

Persistent pain 

This went on, the pain got worse and I started to get depressed. It’s not going away, I would tell my GP in tears. I got to a point, where I thought that this was it; I’d have to simply live with it. In fact, this went on for a few years so I did learn to but I was always aware of it, like a horrid toothache that never quite subsides. I didn’t want to go out, my days ruled by how sore I was or wasn’t.

I’m not the only one who goes through all this as according to the study, those experiencing persistent pain (the most common being back and knee pain) are more likely to think that once you experience this, you can never really get rid of it properly (33% vs 21% of those not experiencing persistent pain), which is more than a little depressing!

Related: UTIs explained: 23 burning questions about urinary tract infections

Those not having experienced this type of chronic pain are more likely to agree if they have pain they should stay in bed and rest (I had tried this and it hadn’t worked) and 57% of those surveyed who were not experiencing persistent symptoms thought taking strong medication or painkillers was the answer.

I thought all of the above until I realised that it was only through physiotherapy that my symptoms would start to lesson. Weekly sessions of physio for my muscle tightness and soreness and fortnightly sessions of pelvic floor therapy and miraculously (and with a LOT of work on my part), I began to feel better. It’s a very slow process. There’s still some pain, but now on a scale of 1 to 10, it’s a 4, where it was a 9 or 10.

Alternative options

“We need to move beyond passive care for people with pain. Medications, injections, rest, scans etc. do little to give people control over their situation in the long term. Short-term pain relief is often met with frustration of the lack of any long term effects,” says Dr Derek Griffin, chartered physiotherapists and pain expert at Bon Secours Hospital.

“Many patients with pain are advised to rest, avoid certain activities or made feel their bodies are vulnerable. Such advice is not in line with the best available scientific evidence. Our modern understanding of pain is that pain is not simply a measure of tissue injury.

“Pain during activity, for example, does not always mean that you are doing harm. It is these types of messages that healthcare professionals should be given to patients to reduce fear.”

While it’s important to note that GP visits and bed rest are more than effective for some, for others, it won’t have the desired effect and by finding alternative treatments, through a qualified physiotherapist, for example, you could see a massive difference, though pain can’t be magically cured in either case, he advises.

Related: ‘It’s often dismissed as nothing but the pain is unbearable’

“There is no “magic bullet” for pain. The role of healthcare professionals is similar to that of a coach. It’s about working together with the patient to bring them on a journey to get back control of their lives. This will involve encouraging and facilitating people to become more physically active and develop healthy sleeping and eating habits.

“Exercise is not only beneficial for developing fitness, we know it can reduce pain and improve our mental health,” he continues. “Anxiety and depression are more common in people with pain and should be effectively managed. Additional strategies such as relaxation or mindfulness techniques or cognitive behavioural therapy can also help people cope with stress or unhelpful thoughts and can be part of how they cope with and manage their pain.

“We also need to change society’s understanding of pain. We need more awareness – pain is about more than tissue damage. Our lifestyles, our mental health, our general well-being and our beliefs about pain can – and will – all play a role.”

The Irish Society of Chartered Physiotherapists is the national, professional body representing over 3,000 Chartered Physiotherapists in Ireland. Chartered Physiotherapists are experts in movement throughout the lifespan – from birth right through to old age. To find your local Chartered Physiotherapist visit www.iscp.ie.


Main photograph: Pexels

Also Read

Little Dolls of Love
BREAKING STORIES
Little Dolls of Love: Project looking for 796 dolls to remember the babies lost at the Tuam Mother and Baby Home

Wanting to ensure that the victims of the Mother and Baby home in Tuam are never forgotten, four Irish women...

By Sarah Finnan

Emily Ratajkowsk Bantry
BREAKING STORIES
Wait, Emily Ratajkowsk grew up in Bantry?!

It was just announced that Emily Ratajkowsk’s clothing brand would be the new sponsor of Bantry Basketball Club’s teenage team....

By Lauren Heskin

Saoirse Ronan Lady Macbeth
BREAKING STORIES
Saoirse Ronan to play the formidable Lady Macbeth in “feminist” take on the play

Saoirse Ronan will take to the stage as Lady Macbeth, starring alongside her ‘Mary Queen of Scots’ co-star James McArdle...

By Sarah Finnan

blank
premium IMAGE WRITES, HEALTH & WELLNESS
Lynn Enright: ‘It’s no wonder young women are vaccine hesitant’

We shouldn’t rush to ridicule or admonish vaccine hesitant young women. Their fears and concerns need to be addressed with clear and appropriate messaging

By Lynn Enright

Center Parcs
BREAKING STORIES
Center Parcs Ireland announces €85 million expansion plan including new luxury treehouses

Center Parcs Ireland has revealed plans for major expansion in the coming months, with those plans including the addition of...

By Sarah Finnan

blank
REAL-LIFE STORIES
‘This is what comes to mind when I think of my twenties – being at sea’

For the better part of her twenties, Lucy Sweeney Byrne travelled the world in search of happiness and inspiration. What...

By IMAGE

blank
premium BREAKING STORIES
National Maternity Hospital: As the row rumbles on, pregnant Irish people deserve better

Irish pregnant people need a National Maternity Hospital that is safe, modern and free from religious influenceIrish pregnant people deserve...

By Lynn Enright