Our Flippin’ Pain Friends – people who live with persistent pain – helped create our key campaign messages, and introduce them here:
Persistent pain is COMMON and can affect anyone
I was 28 years old when a very minor injury whilst dancing led to the strange sensation of hot burning barbed wire wrapped around my thigh and pelvis that never went away. It was hard to understand that I could have this constant debilitating pain- I was young, active, went to the gym, taught fitness and dance classes. I was working for an NHS health promotion team and living in London with friends I socialised with often and enjoyed dancing a lot.
Hurt does not always mean HARM
Acute (new, short-lived) pain protects us from harm, that’s what it’s for - to tell you to take your hand out of the fire. But long-term pain isn’t always a sign that something’s wrong or that we should stop what we’re doing. Pain is something our bodies learn to feel, and the feelings can continue long after the initial cause has passed. Phantom limb pain is the obvious example. But we all, to a lesser extent, learn and become accustomed to our pain. The good news is we can unlearn it, too.
EVERYTHING matters when It comes to pain
Perhaps the greatest revelation in my learning to understand and manage my persistent pain has been that who I am, how I feel, and what I do, can also be factors in my pain experience. For example I started to notice that stress, sleep difficulties, money worries, anxiety and working long hours made my pain worse, and that relaxation, a good work-life balance and enjoying the company of others made my pain better. This was a breakthrough for me - the door opened to being better able to improve and manage my pain.
MEDICINES and surgeries are often not the answer
I started getting pain-relieving injections into my back. The first couple were really effective but what I didn’t fully appreciate was that the relief wouldn’t last. I thought if I just had another injection, or more frequent injections, or another scan it would tell me what was wrong. When it seemed like further injections weren’t working, I went for surgery (a spinal fusion and then later a spinal decompression). Despite initial good progress I was still in pain. Looking back, my way of thinking about pain was that it was the consequence of something else rather than pain itself being the problem that needed treating
UNDERSTANDING your pain can be key
I found a website that explained the science of pain in a way I could understand. Suddenly science was telling me that my pain was real, and that some of the weird things I was experiencing actually made perfect sense! Seeing science explain my experience completely flipped my world upside down. Pain is way more complex than I realized, but that’s a good thing! It means there are lots of things I can do to feel better, and most of them are completely within my control
RECOVERY is possible
Recovery is possible. It’s about creating new habits and unlearning old ones. It’s so easy to get into the mindset that there are no alternatives to controlling pain. Well I found out that there are. It takes time, and along my journey I did falter, but I was consistent in my approach. I kept at it until eventually, today, I can say I control my own pain management
Laura, 31, has lived with persistent pain for 4 years and tells us how pain changed her life.
Sharon tells us about how a Bob Marley song and a Pain Management Programme changed her life.
Claire found that learning about her pain helped her to recover from it
Tess uses breathing exercises as part of Laughter Yoga to help with her pain related to Lipoedema
Learning about the different things that influence Tina's neuropathic pain has helped her manage it
Pete feels he got stuck going round the healthcare system becoming what he calls a ‘Health Tourist’