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Understanding Pain - An Introduction

Why am I here?

You might be asking yourself that very question now that you’ve landed on this page.

Pain isn’t often something that people go out of their way to learn about; it tends to be something that we experience and therefore think or assume we know what it is.

You’ve probably found yourself here either because you’re simply interested in learning a bit more about an interesting subject, or you’ve been guided here by your physio/GP or nurse, as they feel that the information here will help you with your particular issue.

I’m not a fan of reading things, so what should I do? 

We all learn things in different ways. Some of us like to read and absorb information, some of us are more visual and prefer to watch and learn, and some of us prefer to be more practical and ‘hands-on’ for our learning.

Whichever way you learn best, we have tried to make this information accessible for you. If you prefer to read then please dive in, but if you’re more visual, you will find the links to some great videos/websites, all of which are can be found on our What is Persistent Pain?' page.

Why do I have to learn about pain?

Understanding more about a problem is often the first step towards being able to deal with it better.

If you have been guided to this page by a healthcare professional, they probably have confidence that if you are able to understand at least some of the complexities of what pain actually is, how it normally behaves and how it ‘misbehaves’ when it isn’t working properly, then you might be in a stronger position to move forwards with your complaint.

Obviously you don’t have to do anything if you don’t want to. If you feel truly very strongly that this might not be for you, you would need to discuss that with your physio/GP, however, most people find themselves on this page because lots of other things haven’t helped and they are out of ideas.

This all sounds a little ‘out there’ and very different to everything I’ve heard before!

You might be right about that. As you might expect, as time moves by we tend to learn more about things and pain is no exception.

It wasn’t too long ago that healthcare professionals' understanding about pain was more in tune with the idea of acute pain, which meant lots of people with persistent pain found themselves sometimes misunderstood. Worst of all, if no obvious cause for your pain could be found, people were told or made to feel that they were “making it up” or “it’s in your head”.

Thankfully, our understanding about pain and all of its links to your feelings, fitness, sleep and overall wellbeing to name a few, means we have a much better approach to helping people deal with it. It is not something that is ‘in your head’ as you will discover later. A considerable shift has happened towards accepting this approach to managing pain (understanding it, talking therapies, exercise management etc.) and it has started to really gain momentum. A lot of evidence (research and clinical studies) recommend this approach as the best and most effective way of managing long-term pain (see bottom of this page).

Why haven’t I heard about this before then?

Unfortunately, not every healthcare professional including doctors, physios, chiropractors and osteopaths, treat painful issues in the same way. Treatments still exist to this day that can claim to cure your issue or be a ‘quick fix’ to long-standing problems. For some lucky people, they might find one of these types of treatments helps, but for the majority of people they find the effects small, short-lived or generally not that effective.

Just like the treatments on offer out there, the understanding about the complexities of pain and the best, most evidence-supported way of managing it varies hugely. It is often reported by people with persistent pain that they’ve been told different things by different people and can feel lost in all of the conflicting ideas, diagnoses and opinions.

The information in these pages is in line with what is considered the best and most up-to-date way of managing persistent or long-term pain.

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