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Why is the first step to helping myself all about acceptance?

This is a very good question and understanding the answer is really important, as it will help you on your journey towards regaining some control over your painful complaint.

Firstly, acceptance isn’t about giving up or giving in to your symptoms. Acceptance simply means acknowledging that you might have persistent pain and that in order to move forwards with it, a different ‘treatment’ approach might be the best option.

What do you mean?

In a lot of cases, people will find themselves here as lots of other things they’ve tried don’t seem to have helped them. You may have tried lots of ‘traditional’ treatments such medications, injections or acupuncture, or worked with lots of different therapists or doctors, or even had operations to try and sort the issue, but still your pain lingers on and overall, you are no further on.

Allowing yourself to recognise that you have persistent pain may help you to see that some of the ‘traditional’ approaches to pain might not be working for you, and that the newest way of approaching long-standing pain might be more likely to help.


"Accepting something as big as this isn’t easy!"

Of course it is not. Accepting something like persistent pain is a big step, but often, it is one of the biggest steps you can take in the right direction to managing it.

Part of accepting an issue is understanding the issue and what can and can’t be done about it. We hope that you’ve had time to read our ‘Understanding Pain – An Introduction’ and the ‘What is Persistent Pain?’ sections.

Persistent pain can be a real struggle where you find yourself unable to do the things you used to do, or be the person you want to be, but help is available. The first step is about knowing that you can make a difference and that you are ready to start helping yourself.

Example: Think of someone who smokes. Most people understand that smoking isn’t very good for you, but not everyone is ready to give up just because their friend or doctor tells them to. Giving something up like smoking requires an awful lot of effort, perseverance, energy and commitment, and you can only start that journey when you’ve decided you are ready. Taking on the challenge of managing persistent pain is no different. You can only really do it effectively when you’re ready.

How do I know if I’m ready?

We have many decisions to make, everyday of our lives. Some of them are small like choosing the colour of your socks and some of them are bigger, like where to live. Making the decision about accepting you have persistent pain is a big one. Dealing with it will require you to think differently, look at things differently, approach and perhaps even do things differently, but we in physio like to say “if you want something to be different, you have to do things differently”.

To help you decide if you’re ready to accept the challenge of managing your persistent pain better, it is worth asking yourself a couple of questions:

What’s in it for me?

Am I confident that I can do it?

What’s in it for me?

This is really useful to ask before starting. In short, persistent pain can be effectively managed in most cases, therefore it is worth knowing that you can be ‘better’, but you will have to work for it. What 'better' means will be different from person to person, but often people will find that if they are able to manage their symptoms ‘better’, they might still experience some pain, but they can do more with their symptoms i.e. walk longer, lift more and make more choices.


Am I confident that I can do it?

Confidence that you will be able to put the time, energy and effort into this challenge is a question only you can answer. As we’ve said before, managing persistent pain can be done, but it does require you to think and approach things differently, which in itself can sometimes be a challenge. Why not look at the other ‘steps towards making a difference’ to see what might be in store and see if you think you might be ready.


OK, I think I might be ready to start managing my pain differently.

Brilliant! You can think of this as accepting that you are ready to move forwards and effectively ‘draw a line in the sand’ with your symptoms. The journey you will take might be bumpy, take time and won’t always get you exactly where you want to, but things can be different if you’re willing to do differently. Even though you don’t have to go in any particular order, you might want to explore our ‘Building Your Team’ section next:

I’m really not sure this is for me, what do I do?

That is ok. As we’ve said before, if you’re feeling like you’ve not quite got the confidence in yourself or cannot see the potential benefits of trying to manage your pain differently, then now is not the time to start. This information will still be here for when you are ready.

You should either talk with your GP or physiotherapist to discuss what options you may have. It is always worth bearing in mind that things might be able to be different for you with this approach.

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