Medical treatment or self-management?
Following the discovery of a new pain-related gene, BackCare’s Head of Research & Education, Dr Adam Al-Kashi was invited to comment on the BBC Breakfast program (12th June 2015). The discussion soon got onto the difference between treating back pain and managing back pain. These are two very different approaches.
Treatments for back pain, such as medication and surgery (really anything that is done ‘to you’, rather than ‘with you’ or ‘by you’) may provide temporary relief. Pain killers can be useful to help you return to normal activity sooner but aren’t actually good for you and don’t directly promote your recovery. In the long term, the medications typically prescribed for pain have serious side effects. Drugs are not a sustainable solutions for chronic/persistent/long-term/recurrent pain.
Pain management and self-managing your chronic pain, involves shifting from passive to active, and taking control over all the different factors that feed into your pain condition. That doesn’t mean you have to suddenly stop taking medications (which can be dangerous). What it means is learning to good self-management skills and incorporating them into your lifestyle. As you begin to manage your pain well, you’ll naturally find that you’ll need less and less medication.
If you’ve had back pain for many months or even years, and are mainly depending on medications, it’s well worth beginning to learn about good pain management. A great start to upgrade your understanding of back pain, and here’s a great animated video that will really help:
Pete Moore, who was also interviewed on the BBC Breakfast programme (below), is a chronic/persistent pain sufferer of 20 years. He has developed a very useful guide called the “Pain Toolkit” which outlines the skills of self-management. The Pain Toolkit is available as a FREE download in dozen languages.
You can see the BBC Breakfast interview here: