Updated: Jan 12
Every day at the clinic we see people who come to us because of pain that affects their quality of life and general wellbeing. Pain is a signal that something in our body is not functioning in a way it should and there may be a mismatch of information between what the central nervous system expects to receive from the tissues and what it receives.
However, with persistent pain, the actual pain can become a problem itself as it affects our thoughts, feelings and therefore our behaviour. Just stop for a moment and imagine that you have a back pain. How do you feel? Is the pain affecting your thoughts and how you feel?
Now, bring a memory of the last time you felt great. How is your body feeling? How are your movements? Do you feel light, springy and full of energy? Or perhaps you feel strong and powerful or tired and proud of yourself after 10 miles walk?
When experiencing pain is important to take some time and think how it is really affecting us and how we want to feel because that will determine what the real goal of the treatment is.
It is easy to understand that most people who seek treatment see their goal as being pain free. But let’s just take a moment to understand what that means, as it may mean lot of different things for different people. For one person it may mean being able to walk their dogs twice daily without struggle. For another person it may mean being able to pick up their children, do a bench press or run with a running club 5K three times a week.
Setting up a clear and specific goal is an essential part of a successful treatment.
We can think about it a bit like setting up a destination post code on a sat nav. Let’s say that we want to get from London to Stoke- where London means being in pain and Stoke means being able to run 5K twice a week. Saying that we just want to be pain free is like saying that we want to be anywhere else but in London. The chances are that we may never get to the desired destination. Finding the internal motivator, the goal that we really want to achieve, the WHY we want to be pain free, how we want to feel and what we want to be able to do, is the real motivator that will help us to succeed in our treatment.
Establishing a clear and specific goal also helps to break the treatment down into smaller goals that will allow measure the progress.
Having the clarity of what we want to be able to do rather than just being pain free sets our focus on that positive goal. The more important is the activity to us the more motivation we are likely to have to make the necessary effort in order to succeed.