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Examining The Causes and Effects of Chronic Pain

With World Physiotherapy Day celebrated every year on 8 September, physiotherapists around the world took the opportunity to raise awareness about the crucial contribution the profession makes to increasing the wellness and health of people across the world. In Namibia, professionals also did more than their part and Kerstin Museler from Physio Care shares what these contributions are and what the status of physiotherapy is in Namibia. 

Tell us about World Physiotherapy Day?

It’s celebrated on the 8 September every year by the World Confederation of Physical Therapy. The Namibian Society of Physiotherapy is part of this association and we plan certain activities for every year and this year’s topic is chronic pain

Talk to us about chronic pain, because there’s so much we still have to learn about.

First of all let’s start by defining what is pain. The International Association for The Study of Pain phrases it this way: ”It’s a distressing experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage” The experience usually includes a cognitive, emotional and social components, so it’s a very wide kind of concept.

When defining  chronic pain it gets even more difficult. Chronic pain is actually the inability of your body to return to a normal state after, for example, injury or trauma. It’s like the brain gets stuck and it then has trouble processing what’s going on around it.

It can actually send wrong information to the body which will then make your body react in a certain way which could be a pain, and chronic pain is a huge problem worldwide. It ranges between 20 to 40% of people living with chronic pain on a daily basis, and this as a result increases “medically”. Chronic pain also carries a big social stigma where people tell people suffering from pain “oh it’s all in your head” for example. So it’s important to create public awareness that pain is real and what we can do about it, because there is hope and people don’t have to live in pain – even if it’s chronic pain.

So what can a physiotherapist do for chronic pain?

It has a lot to do with education, because education empowers the patient. When you know that there’s something that you can do about a situation you don’t feel as hopeless. By taking back control of your own life, that already is a big step in the right direction, so there’s a certain system that you work with and it’s mostly just a conversation, trying to teach patients about how the brain works. Because you think that your pain can only ever come from tissue damage, for example, a torn muscle.

Than looking for the cause of the pain in your body, and until you understand that actually your brain can give you pain, you’ll have trouble finding the cause. 

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