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A New Understanding Of Chronic Pain : The Free Energy Principle And Body Awareness

July 2, 2018

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Healing Persistent Pain is like fitting together a (very complicated) puzzle

March 1, 2018





I have treated thousands of people over many years suffering from pains that have lasted well beyond the expected time a pain might be expected to be present for.Any pain that lasts more than 3 months is termed "chronic" although the fashion now is to term it "persistent" as this sounds a bit less fear inducing and perhaps something that might change positively in time.


Many of those that I have seen have tried other osteopaths, acupuncturists, physiotherapists, dieticians, surgeons (and may well have had bits cut away, or things squirted into them, to see it it helped the pain),psychotherapists, counsellors,healers, read books, joined support groups, taken every possible combination of medication, in the hope that they will at some point hit the jackpot and someone finds the solution to their problem.

Along this journey many will be frightened, frustrated, angry (at themselves, the medical system, their workplace- colleagues and bosses,family and friends and maybe even their God), spend time ruminating about the past and future and suffer with low mood and perhaps depression.


Having worked as an osteopath in the NHS for 17 years, I often see clients several years in their journey with pain. Very often the introduction is one of some suspicion on the clients part.They may have become quite cynical (and perhaps rightly so) about medics and their claims and often approach the consultation with very low expectations. Also as an experienced practitioner I know there is a known limited time frame in which you have to gain trust and set out your stall as to how you are different and why your method maybe one that will help them.


With this in mind it is easy to fall into the trap of forcing lots of information on them, in order to show them your knowledge and credentials. This was probably something that I was guilty of in my first 10+ years as an osteopath.


My eureka moment came when I attended a conference about 5 years ago run by Professor Peter O' Sullivan, a New Zealand born physiotherapist and a leading researcher and authority on spinal pain (especially low back and pelvic pain).I had already started to change my thinking about pain from a simple "damage" model (known as a biomedical model), whereby what is seen on the scan is what your pain is, to a more nuanced understanding that many elements come in to play when dealing with what is a complex individual. We have all had different experiences and are all unique and therefore to understand someone's pain you have to an extent understand them as much as is possible.It is like trying to fit together a very complicated jigsaw puzzle. It is what makes my work so interesting and when it goes well, s