1. Failed treatments and different explanations
If pain persists you will most likely try several different medical professionals. Every time you hoped it would work out, but it didn’t. Every time a treatment or an approach doesn’t work out you get more worried, what’s going on? “This should be better by now”, “my neighbor had the same thing and she is fine now”, “what’s wrong with me why am I different?” You will also hear a different opinion from most people you see. As you hear more and more things that are potentially wrong with you, you can feel more fragile, more broken, and even more confused. This can increase fear and anxiety.
2. Family dynamics
There are two ways families can often impact pain:
These are the enablers. An overprotective spouse or parent. The husband that takes care of his wife, he puts on her shoes, gets her purse and carries her coat. As well intentioned as this is, this enables and drives disability. The parent version of this is called the helicopter parent. The parent hovering over their child advising less activity and avoid moving or bending certain ways. A parents catastrophizing in the first 72hours after orthopaedic surgery is one of the biggest predicters of chronic pain in that child. That sentence in worth reading again.
At the other end of the scale, a lack of support in your immediate environment can contribute to increases in pain. The Irish Mammy who doesn’t get one hour of ‘me time’ in their week. They are working, driving people around every evening and cleaning their 24yr old son’s room. It might be easier if you broke a bone and had a cast on that people can actually see. With ongoing pain people suffer in silence.
The right support can promote recovery but neither of these family dynamics are helpful when it comes to treating people with ongoing pain.
3. Fear and anxiety
The fear of pain is worse than the pain itself. Previous experiences of pain and fear of causing damage increase sensitivity levels. Fear, anxiety, and catastrophizing influence physical factors like postural and movement habits. People develop a fear which causes increased muscle tension and reduced movement. Fear-avoidance means you withdraw from meaningful activities and do less and less as time goes on.
As long as the cause for your pain is unknown or poorly answered you (your body and your brain) might as well keep your defenses up so your internal alarm system stays set at extra sensitive. Living in pain is not normal and being in ongoing pain can add to stress and worry. Worries about your job, relationships, and finances can keep the alarm system elevated and increase your pain. Understanding the relevant factors that might be contributing to your pain is a key factor in recovering.
If you would like to chat to somebody about your own persistent pain experience please get in touch by calling us on 086 787 6358 or email firstname.lastname@example.org