From Victim Of Chronic Pain – To Overcomer

3 Steps To Put You Back In Control

Woman With Chronic Pain

Have you ever been in pain? I’m not talking about scraping your knee when you were eight years old, I’m talking about real pain. Lasting pain. Pain that won’t go away or goes away and comes back again a few months later. Maybe you or somebody you know is experiencing this type of chronic pain now. You’ve tried everything and nothing helps. You feel like you’re not in control. You feel like a victim.

Let me clarify. There are diseases and disorders that can cause ongoing chronic pain as a normal course of the disorder. I’m not talking about that kind of pain. The type of pain I am specifically addressing here is the kind that should have gone away but didn’t.

There are 3 phases in the pain timeline:

  • Acute (3 weeks)
  • Sub-Acute (3 weeks – 3 months)
  • Chronic (>3 months)

Chronic pain is long lasting pain that you’ve had for more than 3 months. It’s not fun.

There is good news, however – there is hope.

A Reason For Chronic Pain

When you are in pain for such a long period of time, your brain begins to process things differently. It creates what are called neuro-tags assigned to your pain. These are like little sticky notes constantly reminding the brain things like “Yep…my back hurts when I…”

These neuro-tags can be a nuisance. Why? Oftentimes, chronic pain continues even when the stimulus that caused your pain in the first place is long gone. The reason? The neuro-tags are still there.

The longer the pain goes on the more sensitive you become to any new stimulus that your brain perceives could be a threat.

Imagine your brain has a volume knob for pain that is normally turned to 1. Each time you bend down to lift something heavy, you might experience a 1-out-of-10 pain. But with chronic pain, your brain can turn that volume knob up…and up…to 5…or even 10.

So even when something that isn’t actually causing physical harm or damage to your body can be perceived as causing extreme pain.

The brain is a powerful thing.

How To Overcome

You didn’t think I’d leave you out to dry without giving you a solution, did you?

Not without a disclaimer, though: the solution might not be quick and it might not be easy. That being said, YOU can make a change. Let me say that again:

YOU CAN MAKE A CHANGE

That’s right. You can overcome chronic pain. The sooner you realize this truth, the sooner you can get started on the path to being free of pain.

Here are 3 steps to get you started on your journey:

  1. Realize that YOU can make a change. No matter what happened to you in the past to cause your pain. No matter what is continuing to happen outside of your control. No matter the quality of care you’ve received to this point. No matter the medications you’ve taken. Right now YOU are in control of you.
  2. Get moving. Expose yourself to different movements. Movements that you know shouldn’t hurt. Maybe it’s walking, or raising your arms over your head, or squatting. Whatever it is, go slow, take it easy, and tell yourself that it’s okay to move like this. You need to give your brain permission to allow your body to move normally again.
  3. Repeat and Increase. As you get more and more comfortable with these basic, slow movements, go ahead and branch out. Try things that may be a bit more strenuous. Try things a little faster, or a little heavier. If you start to have some pain, stop and repeat steps 1 and 2.

Now, of course this isn’t going to happen overnight. But with the proper mindset and the graded exposure to normal movements again, your brain can begin to assign new neuro-tags. The new neuro-tags are sticky notes telling your brain that these activities are harmless.

If you are experiencing ongoing or recurring pain, I challenge you to take these 3 steps and see what can happen.

You don’t have to be a victim of pain anymore. You can overcome.

Question: If you are in pain, what movement can you try today that won’t hurt? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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  • Will Boyd

    Hey Michael! I love the layout of your new website. You did an incredible job setting all of this up. Having battled obsessive compulsive thinking and depression over the last 10-15 years, I could easily relate to this article. I love the message you are putting out into the world. Thanks for doing what you do. – Will from The Knowbodies Podcast

    • Michael Curtis

      Thanks so much Will! You guys are awesome

  • frank klomp

    Nice to see that you are using EHealth to reach out for patients in pain!
    In a way we used the same steps in ‘treating’ CRPSpatients with Pain Exposure Physical Therapy.
    Don’t fight the pain but move normally.

    • Michael Curtis

      Thanks Frank! Not always an easy thing to teach, but powerful. And “normal” isn’t the same for everyone…but everyone can move more optimally