How long can I expect to feel like this? When will I be back to normal? Is this pain ever going to go away?
We get these questions a lot.
Let’s talk about the information represented by this diagram - or what we like to call “The Circle of Pain”.
As a rule of thumb, pain from a recent injury will reduce after 3 months. Pain lasting beyond 3 months is considered persistent or chronic, and will not respond to common treatment for pain. What we see in this image are the different potential pieces of persistent pain. We would like to think that “my sister’s wedding” or “my dad’s retirement” or “my new job” have nothing to do with “the pain I feel in my elbow”. The reality is, unfortunately, that change or new equals stress. Good stress or bad stress are viewed as equal by our bodies. (We know, we think that’s silly, too!) A successful plan targets ALL the factors of your pain management (see circle).
A while back, during our planning stages for Catalyst Physiotherapy, we talked a lot about this very thing. How can we, in this day and age, where everything is moving so quickly, take all these things into consideration? Where does the time come from when insurance and company policy dictate and push for ‘shorter visits’ in general? Even if we are asking the right questions, we were finding that clients don’t have time to process or answer due to the time constraints placed on them by the appointment length.
One of the things we are most proud of is our open floor plan, with the ability to move to a more private space if needed, and the community feel we have created at our new facility. The hope is that this will foster open communication and a sense of belonging amongst our clients and staff. When we sit down with a client or potential client, asking “How are you?”, “How was the wedding?”, “What’s new with you?” …we aren’t just making small talk, we are assessing possible stressors to your chronic pain. This, along with movement screens, referrals to other services to help with emotion and mental pressures of everyday life as well as practical tips on managing our attitude towards pain, is what makes us different. It’s what drives us as it is at the core of our ideology.
So, next time you start feeling down and asking “How long will I feel like this?” consider the Circle of Pain! Aside from your prescribed stretches, exercises, and rests - what can you do to manage the external stressors in your life. Let’s get on top of that chronic pain, chipping away at the things that want to keep you ‘in that circle’!