No one can understand the mental anguish associated with chronic pain until they experience it themselves. When you are in a lot of pain for several years, where prescribed pain killers don’t help at all and every test from doctors and surgeons state they can’t help, you get quite down on life and yourself. I struggled to get out of bed to go sit at my work desk for 8 hours with a smile on my face
while an army of gremlins stabbed me in my spine. I spent thousands of dollars for tests with spinal specialists that were billed as so competent that “if they can’t help no one can”. That hope was shattered into acceptance that I would never be pain free. While that was an emotional low it actually helped me. I finally had an answer that this pain was my life now and it wouldn't improve. There was no reason to delay anything until I got better as I figured I never would. The doctors had said as much. A month later I returned to martial arts that I had toyed with since I was 15 but stopped due to a knee injury at 21. I was about 30 at this stage.
- Never accept failure of treatment. Ask for alternatives and if something doesn't begin to start relief with a month or two, move on.
- Go to a rehab specialist or physiotherapist first. They train for years on just muscular and body movement issues. GPs are highly skilled but they need to worry more about issues that can kill you. As such they spend a short amount of time learning how to treat muscular issues. Surgeons only know how to treat issues with surgery. That may seem obvious but it isn't taken into account enough. If a surgeon says you need surgery you tend to believe there is nothing else (I know I did). Surgery is the nuclear option from orbit. It should fix the issue but it also destroys lesser, cheaper options such as a year of rehab. Physio’s and Chiro’s should treat you as much as possible, then when they run out of options, refer you to a GP or surgeon for the next step. Don’t skip to the last step first.
- Just like anything worthwhile, it takes time. Don’t give up after a few difficult months. You will experience low points. You will have a hard time and there will be pain, copious amounts of sweat and tears, but it’s important to see it through. You will improve with the right people in your corner.
- Listen to the advice of those you selected to help. If they say you have to stretch at least 5 times a day for the next month then do it 6 times a day. Yes work can get in the way, but it usually only takes 5 minutes and you can schedule it with a toilet break. A first aid room is generally always an option, or you can book a meeting room.
- If you haven’t already, get into a sport that promotes a lot of different movements. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is perfect for this as it is low impact, provides strength, flexibility and a large range of motion. If you are in the area I recommend Infinite MMA in Ballarat. Hopefully I’ll see you there.