Practise creating your own Pain Stories to illustrate Target Concepts – key ideas helpful for everyone to understand pain. Here’s one that we prepared earlier!
The Whining Child
- Pain relies on context.
- Pain and tissue damage rarely relate.
- Pain is one of many protective outputs.
You may notice that your child has found the perfect tone of whinge to grab your attention. Perhaps you’re in the kitchen preparing food and all you can hear is this moan, “Mummy, Muuuummmmm, Muuummmmeeee, Muuummmmaaaaaa” (and variations around this theme!). To begin with you ignore it, put it to one side and carry on making dinner but the moan becomes more frequent and a little louder. You notice yourself getting distracted by it, forgetting what you are doing, your heart begins to race a bit and you become agitated. Eventually you snap, “YES!! What is it?!”
Pain can behave a little like this. Starting relatively quietly then building and becoming more frequent, affecting your concentration and ability to perform tasks, making you edgy, agitated, sometimes angry.
At a biological level there may be evidence of gain or amplification to sensory signals from the painful body part. This is part of what occurs with sensitisation. The (metaphorical) volume button has been turned up. In other words the information you are receiving from the painful body part (about stretching/moving, temperature changes etc.) has become louder, more intense and perhaps more frequent. All of this will make the sensory information more likely to grab your attention. In that way, our biology (and the experience of pain) is incredibly effective. It seems that children are implicitly aware of how our biology works too!
When you are in a good place how to you deal your child’s whinge? Do you respect their calls for help and attention, offering them a little time or help, before continuing with the dinner?
When in pain it can help to use similar strategies. If possible, take a second to notice what you feel, check in with yourself. Respect what you are feeling and where and when possible give yourself some time, maybe a few breaths. These in the moment strategies, can help turn the volume down or reduce the gain in your system. By creating a habit of regularly checking in, responding to your needs (e.g. the right food, sleep, movement/exercise, support etc.) can have a longer term effect on the gain/amplification in your system. Ultimately having some awareness of how to influence our volume button. The ability to know what can turn it up but also what helps turn it down.
-Tim Beames and the Noigroup Europe team