I know what it is like to be in pain. Not only because I deal with people who have been experiencing musculoskeletal symptoms during the 22 years of my career, but also firsthand, due to my own experience with chronic pain.
And I know that when we are in pain, our body automatically goes into protective mode and our mind goes into catastrophizing mode.
And I know that if we don’t know why we are in pain – strangely enough this happens more often than it should – and if the pain doesn’t go away soon enough, we begin to worry.
So I understand that if, after seeing 5 orthopedists, 2 neurosurgeons, 7 physiotherapists, 1 acupuncturist, 2 chiropractors, 1 rheumatologist, 1 voodoo Doctor and 1 priest, we are still in pain, it is difficult to believe that at some point we will be “fine” again.
But every day I see people sabotaging their own recovery, by focusing only on what is not working and what they can no longer do.
We cannot heal when we are in “scarcity”, when we get depressed every time we see others playing basketball, dancing or running, when we feel disabled because we can’t do the activities we used to do the same way we did before. I’ve been there. It doesn’t work.
Especially those of us who have had a long relationship with Mr. P will need to understand that rehabilitation does not mean that I’ll get one treatment with a therapist or l will get a prescription and overnight, miraculously I’ll be “as good as new”. Not that it doesn’t happen. But it’s not the rule.
In every treatment, the point is to convince the Brain that we are no longer in danger and She could stop protecting us.
Unless we focus on small, subtle changes in our movement, or quality, intensity, and duration of our symptoms, we miss the opportunity to recognize any, if only slight, progress and let the General know that the siege is receding and She may slowly pull the troops back.
Did you get up without being flexed forward like a granny? This is Progress! Did you walk for 8 minutes until the pain stopped you instead of 5? This is Progress! Are you a 6 in a pain scale with a maximum of 10 instead of 7? This is Progress. Did you manage to run 10 meters without pain? This is Progress!
Focus on what goes well! And make it grow!