Explaining some common terms
In this section you will find a list of some common conditions and key terms, with simple explanations to help you identify causes of pain, as well as some of the treatments, resources and professionals you may encounter when tackling it.
When we set ourselves goals, it’s useful to have an action plan.
Example: Pat's goal is to exercise for 30 minutes a day.
Action plan: Pat needs to find out what type of exercise suits their condition, where will they do it and when.
To sum up, action planning is finding out what ingredients you will need to make a cake, while the goal is making the cake.
A form of ancient Chinese medicine in which fine needles are inserted into the skin at certain points on the body. It is commonly used by some healthcare providers, especially in Pain Clinics.
For more information about acupuncture, please visit this page.
Usually part of a Pain Management team, clinical psychologists aim to reduce psychological distress and support and promote mental well-being.
They work largely in health and social care settings - including hospitals, health centres, community mental health teams and social services – and often alongside other professionals including doctors, nurses, social workers, occupational therapists and physiotherapists.
A talking-therapy, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) cannot solve your problems, but can help you manage them in a more positive way by encouraging you to examine how your actions affect how you think and feel.
Flare-ups or setbacks usually happen if we've overdone an activity. To avoid them, we need to pace our daily activities with regular breaks. Speak to your Health Trainer or provider for further assistance.
For more information on managing flare ups, please visit this page.
A health trainer or other health care professional may talk to you about goal setting which involves working out Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-targeted goals - sometimes called SMART goals.
For more information about goal setting, please visit this page.
GPs with a Special Interest deliver an additional high quality service in a particular area of expertise to meet the needs of patients. For example, a doctor may specialise in skin conditions or musculoskeletal problems.
Hypnosis is not 'sleep' - you remain in control of whatever the hypnotherapist says and does. Some people with pain say it has helped them. As always, discuss with your GP before having hypnotherapy.
A range of joined services to promote faster recovery from illness, prevent unnecessary acute hospital admission, support timely discharge and maximise independent living.
If you want the time and space to talk to someone who is trained to help with complex and multiple issues, provide emotional, social or practical support then you can find a link worker in your local area.
Mindfulness means non-judgemental awareness – a direct knowledge of what is going on inside and outside ourselves, moment by moment – and has been shown to be useful in self-managing pain.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a type of scan used to diagnose health conditions that affect organs, tissue and bone.
More information http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/mri-scan/pages/introduction.aspx
It may be appropriate for your specific condition to consider pain relieving injections. If appropriate, these will be discussed with you by the pain doctor, who is also the professional who will perform these, usually under X-ray. Pain relieving injections do not usually result in a 'cure', but can help improve your condition, especially with additional non-medical input, e.g. pain management programmes, see above.
An OT usually works within hospitals and aims to promote people’s health and wellbeing through their everyday activities. An OT can identify problem areas patients may have in their everyday lives - such as dressing or getting to the shops - and helps them to work out practical solutions.
Learning how to balance the length of time you do things to avoid making your pain worse. Doing this well can help you build strength and stamina without flaring your pain.
A psychologically-based rehabilitative treatment for people with persistent pain which remains unresolved by other treatments. It is delivered in a group setting by an interdisciplinary team of experienced health care professionals working closely with patients.
Some Pain Centres run Pain Management Programmes that aim to teach a group of patients with similar problems about pain, how best to self-manage it and how to live a more active life.
More information http://www.britishpainsociety.org/patient_pmp.htm
A GP's explanation: The spinal cord contains a neurological 'gate' that either blocks pain signals or allows them to continue on to the brain. Unlike an actual gate, which opens and closes to allow things to pass through, the 'gate' in the spinal cord operates by differentiating between the types of fibres carrying pain signals.
Pain gates can be kept closed through stretching and exercise, relaxation, pacing daily activities and medication. We open it by not keeping active, doing too much and trying to keep up with others.
Medical doctors, experts at diagnosing, treating and managing pain. They usually work within hospitals. Your GP may refer you to one if you need more support to manage your pain.
A type of therapy that can help you to learn how to stretch and exercise without harming yourself. Physiotherapy takes a holistic approach, involving the patient in their own care. A physiotherapist usually works within hospitals but can also work at a GP Practice.
For more information about physiotherapy, please visit this page.
Services provided by GP practices, dental practices, community pharmacies and high street optometrists. About 90% of people’s contact with the NHS is through these services.
Tense muscles may feel more pain, so relaxation is really important for people with persistent pain.
For more information about how to soothe the stress of pain, please visit this page.
Secondary care is the health care services provided by medical specialist and other health professionals who generally do not have first contact with patients for example, Pain Anesthetists or cardiologists who see people about heart problems.
If you live with pain or a long-term health condition you will need to learn some self-management skills to enable you to lead a fulfilling life. Work as a team with your healthcare provider to develop a self-management action plan.
For some people, a transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) machine is used as an alternative to painkilling medication. A TENS machine is a small portable, battery-operated device which is worn on the body. Small electrical pulses are transmitted to the body via sticky pads on the skin which can help some people with certain types of pain. Although there is not much robust proof that TENS machines work, many people do find them very helpful.