Scientists love Pain, but Pain is a love hate subject.
To the person who lives a life with chronic pain, it can be a hateful, noxious, depressing, frustrating feeling.
But scientists love pain & none more so than neuroscientists who study pain.
Neuroscientists are a mixed bag, because neuroscience is a highly interdisciplinary field. Any individual from the fields of biology, chemistry, biochemistry, pharmacology, medicine, psychiatry, psychology, engineering, mathematics who contributes to neuroscience related research may be considered a neuroscientist. It’s virtually impossible to measure how many scientists work in this field, but the number will be huge.
In a way, this is great news for people who experience pain, because there are so many differing research institutes all over the globe exploring the why’s and how’s and what if’s? For most pain science, academic centres, the goal is to discover answers, to formulate better management & treatment of pain, to help people with pain.
But in another way, all the science may not be so good. Because science as and of itself, just exploring and finding amazing data doesn’t necessarily make any impact on the individual’s lived experience of day to day pain.
Additionally, and by nature, scientists are a bit like expedition leaders. They explore deeper and deeper, going further and further into discoveries about genes, small bits of brain circuitry, endocrine systems, interrelationships of complex systems. But maybe as they go so far down a complicated network of specialist knowledge, the everyday person gets lost.
As a clinician who works with people who have pain, I’m aware that what I hear in clinic doesn’t support that everyday people know the everyday science of pain. I’ve introduced this in some of my picture blogs. People who feel trapped and isolated in pain, people who still reference their pain as coming from a part of their body, people who don’t understand their treatment, or who think that a therapist avoided touching them because they might damage them.
Some people might say that because my work is with people who have pain, and that those who come along have failed somewhere else, that I’m biased. This may be correct, however, how do we balance the amazing advances in the science & knowledge of pain science, with the never decreasing burden of pain sufferers?
What is the real, true experience of the person with a new acute pain who books to see a therapist? Has the knowledge of pain science truly filtered out to the everyday GP, personal trainer, Physiotherapist, massage practitioner? My concern, is that the evidence that it has, is lacking.
Everyday there are routine phone calls to my clinic from people who want help with pain. Every person who I case manage after a major life changing accident has persistent pain as a symptom.
Pain is the number one reason that people ask for help.
As a scientist, it’s natural for me to be interested in reading publications, papers from every facet of neuroscience. It’s a fascination because it’s so complex. However, as a practical creative person, who has also been a chronic pain ‘victim’, I’m interested in formulating solutions. My mission is to make the science & theory easy for people to understand and give people practical solutions to put into practice every day.
At this stage, we already have available necessary basic science to formulate a framework of pain. It’s a bit like the basic science behind the structure of space. Scientists are going to carry on exploring for decades, but there is a basic framework we can use to explain pain to everyday people.
Explaining pain, acute pain, persistent pain needs to be done early in the patient, client, customer journey. It’s no good having months of fear, worry, anxiety and misinformation after an injury because this could lead on to an acute pain developing into a persisting pain.
This week launched my first instillation of Encountering Pain at my clinic in Reading, Berkshire.
An extract from the instillation is shown below.
The aim to take pain knowledge out of the rabbit holes, up into the community, out onto the surface where every day folk live.
Let’s get people talking about pain and solutions to use every day.
Book in for Encountering Pain: The Common Language of Pain in Reading.
Contact me to arrange to have the instillation & experiential event at your centre
If you would like some coaching or therapy to help your pain then contact me via my contact page.