Osteopathic Journals and Research by Darren Chandler


Persistent (chronic) pain

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  • Who gets persistent pain
  • Why some pain is persistent
  • What can be done

Who gets persistent pain

Over 14 million people in the UK have persistent pain. Of them nearly 1 in 4 said it had stopped them from their usual activities including work.

Why some pain is persistent

When someone injures themselves our body recognises this as pain which initiates the body to repair itself. Usually this resolves the problem and the pain disappears. However some injuries are incapable of healing themselves. This maybe because the initial injury was particulary bad or something is maintaining the injury for example a working posture, weakness of a muscle or inflexibility. In cases such as this treatment from your osteopath will address any underlying issues and correct your injury.

Occasionally however in other forms of persistent pain your symptoms can continue even after the injury has repaired. It occurs because our nerves become over-sensitised. In other words our nerves become too good at sensing pain. As a result of our nerves being so sensitive it means a painful response will be triggered far more easily than normal. You could think of this as a sensitive car alarm that goes off in error when someone walks past. As unpleasant as this is it doesn’t always mean you are doing yourself any harm simply by moving. However deciding what activities you do and don’t do should be made by your osteopath or suitable healthcare practitioner to avoid the potential of further injury.

What can be done

If you have an injury that simply won’t heal by itself then you should consult your osteopath for treatment. Injuries resistant to standard over the counter treatments are common in osteopathic clinics.

This is some general advise on how to manage your pain

  • Being less active causes the joints to stiffen and weight gain. Weak or under-used muscles/joints can feel more pain. Keeping active can in some cases reduce pain. Seek appropriate advice from your osteopath or appropriate healthcare provider before deciding what activities to do or you could potentially injure yourself further.
  • Pace your activities. Try and separate a job into more manageable chunks and with time to recover between activities.
  • Set goals by writing a list of things you can do rather than can’t do.
  • Sleep depravation can be a major problem with persistent pain and cause your symptoms to worsen. Avoid napping during the day if you can. Experiment with different sleeping positions and pillows or using different beds in the house to find one most comfortable. Some patients perform exercises or take measures they find helps their symptoms before they go to bed for a better night sleep. 
  • Negative thinking and low moods is a common problem with persistent pain. More so if your pain affects your relationships and work causing financial worries. Any pre-existing mental health problems are likely to be aggravated with persistent pain and it’s best to talk about things with friends, family or your GP. 
  • Keep hydrated. Dehydration can be a common cause of persistent chronic aching pains.


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