Stats about pain and the US and around the world are overwhelming. The treatment of pain in the US is even more distressing. For example:
There is insufficient evidence that prescription opioids control chronic pain effectively over the long term, and there is evidence that other treatments can be effective with less harm.
Americans engaged in non-medical use of opioid pain medication in the last month – 4.3 million
-National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), 2014
Overdose deaths involving prescription opioids have quadrupled since 1999, and so have sales of these prescription drugs.3 From 1999 to 2015, more than 183,000 people have died in the U.S. from overdoses related to prescription opioids.
CDC. Wide-ranging online data for epidemiologic research (WONDER). Atlanta, GA: CDC, National Center for Health Statistics; 2016. Available at http://wonder.cdc.gov.
Rudd RA, Seth P, David F, Scholl L. Increases in Drug and Opioid-Involved Overdose Deaths — United States, 2010–2015.
But there is another awareness, that chronic pain sufferers need to acknowledge.
Awareness is a dynamic process. It is only possible in the present and therefore is constantly changing. Unfortunately today the culture still creates a separation between mind and body. And we are taught to not pay attention. Therefore we are rarely aware of sensation in our bodies unless we are in a state of discomfort or pain. Pain signals the need to change the body, in its health, movement or alignment.
Awareness is not about judging ourselves but about gathering information about our bodies. With this awareness, we can then set about making small changes in our body and movement that improve our balance and alignment. With awareness of pain, we can use stimulation, either movement or relaxation, to encourage healing. Ideally, this process is a daily occurrence. Each morning we need to check in with our bodies to adjust how we do the things in life we want.
Create your own Pain Awareness Report
Print this out or copy to complete the following sentences in order find your particular pain triggers and understand your specific patterns of behaviors:
Activities I do not actually do or no longer do to avoid pain:
Activities I can do without pain:
How do I stand, sit, walk?
Describe what the sensations feel like.
Notice and then observe how my body does during an activity I do often.
Notice whether I am causing a problem through the way I move or don’t move?
(No one doesn’t accidentally continue to cause injury to themselves because they have a pain signal.) If a movement hurts or even causes a slight twinge, the movement should be modified or stopped.
What are my thoughts before pain begins
Thoughts about the pain I’d most like to stop are:
Feelings I have before the pain sensation
The feelings I’d most like to end are:
The particular pain sensations I’d most like exit are:
The memories of pain I’d most like to process are:
List anything that I think about or feel before a pain sensation
Take time to list any actions or non-actions I have tried in order to avoid pain.
List my unpleasant thoughts or feelings when in pain
List my memories of pain and scale and type of pain.
List what I am doing, thinking or doing before the pain begins to learn unconscious triggers
Try to remember strategies I have ever used (whether deliberately or by default) to avoid pain.
Awareness creates choices. It is choosing to be aware of our bodies, sensing what needs to heal and stimulating the area in order to achieve healing.