Start managing your chronic and acute pain. Infinity Health can help you manage your pain and get back to doing the things you love.
Pain Management Services In Metro Vancouver/Greater Vancouver And The Fraser Valley
Experiencing pain is a natural part of life, though each individual’s experience of pain can vary greatly. Pain is a personal experience that is influenced by biological, psychological, and social factors, and it can be defined as “an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage…” (The International Association for the Study of Pain, 2019). Pain can be acute lasting for only a moment or up to three to six months, or it can be chronic, persisting for more than three to six months, or past the time of normal tissue healing. Both acute and chronic pain are commonly experienced by individuals who have sustained an injury or who have been involved in an accident.
Acute And Chronic Pain Management
Acute pain typically follows an injury or event (e.g., breaking a bone, pulling a muscle), and often resolves when the underlying cause has healed. When pain is acute, it serves as a warning of a threat to the body and can help us detect when something may be dangerous or harmful. Acute pain can be used as a helpful guide to know when to stop or avoid something that causes pain.
However, when pain becomes chronic, lasting more than three to six months, we experience pain even when no tissue damage or harm is being done. Our nervous system becomes hypersensitive with chronic pain, which means that even a soft touch or movement can result in severe pain. The experience of pain is real, even though we know that the action or touch resulting in pain is not causing tissue damage.
It can be helpful to think of chronic pain as our body’s faulty alarm system – rather than sounding the alarm when there is a real threat or danger, the alarm can be set off with even the most minuscule stimulations. This consistent experience of pain can result in significant functional disability and emotional distress, as meaningful activities of daily living can become increasingly challenging to engage in. Chronic pain can be challenging to manage given its complex nature and significant functional impact, though, with a supportive network, it is possible to learn how to manage it and live a meaningful life.
Pain Management Overview
Often, a multidisciplinary approach is considered best practice to manage chronic pain, as pain is complex and multidimensional (Health Canada, 2019). Multidisciplinary teams can include medical and rehabilitation healthcare professionals, including occupational therapists, physiotherapists, psychologists, doctors, and pharmacists. Infinity Health’s multidisciplinary team comprises of occupational therapists, clinical counsellors, kinesiologists, and rehabilitation assistants, who will work with you towards improved health, overall wellbeing, and recovery. By working with a multidisciplinary team, you will be supported through your recovery from biological, psychological, and social/emotional perspectives to address all aspects of how pain may be impacting your life as a whole.
Our kinesiologists provide expertise in human movement and can work with you to improve your physical functioning through the use of body mechanics education and tailored exercise programs. Kinesiologists can help guide you through exercises safely and effectively to help you learn how to move safely with pain and support you to re-engage in physical activity.
Clinical counsellors also play an essential role in pain management. The experience of pain is said to be bio-psychosocial, in that pain not only affects our physical function, but also impacts the psychological and social aspects of life as well. The experience of pain is often accompanied by changes in mood (e.g., feelings of anxiety or depression), difficulty sleeping, and fatigue. A clinical counsellor can help you talk through these changes and work with you to practice coping strategies to manage more effectively. Experiencing pain can be challenging and isolating, but you don’t have to endure it alone.
How Can An Occupational Therapist Help Manage My Pain?
Occupational therapists are experts at enabling engagement in the activities that make your life meaningful – that includes everything from completing your morning self-care routine to working or volunteering. An occupational therapist will conduct a comprehensive assessment to better understand how pain impacts your ability to function and engage in meaningful activities. With an overarching focus on occupational engagement, an occupational therapist will work with you to create client-centered, occupation-based goals and provide a diverse range of strategies for improved pain management. Occupational therapists are trained to consider the person as a whole, including the physical, emotional, and spiritual aspects unique to the person.
Occupational therapy interventions to manage pain can include:
Pain is complex, and it can be even more challenging to manage without a basic understanding of how pain is produced in the body. An occupational therapist will provide pain education to help you better understand what is happening in your body, when it is safe to move through the pain, and how to calm your nervous system to better manage your pain and improve your function. By learning about the basics of pain and pain management, you will better understand how to manage your pain and how to apply what you’ve learned to face new challenges.
Ergonomic Assessment and environmental modifications
Ergonomic assessments help determine potential factors in a person’s environment that can be modified to reduce pain, promote musculoskeletal health, and reduce unnecessary stress on the body. Environmental adaptations can be made along with adaptive aids that alter the task or activity to better match the individual’s abilities.
Evidence-based strategies for relaxation and stress management
The impact of stress on the experience of pain is well-documented, which is why occupational therapists often provide education and training on the use of relaxation and stress management strategies. Such interventions might include guided mental imagery, mindfulness, and the provision of sleep hygiene education.
Learn new ways to live your life despite pain
It can be challenging to learn new ways to live your life with pain, but with the help of an occupational therapist, you will feel supported through the process of learning how to re-engage in the activities that make your life meaningful. Ultimately, you are the expert on yourself; an occupational therapist will support you to learn self-management techniques that can be applied to new challenges as they arise.
Alongside occupational therapists, our rehabilitation assistants are available to provide 1:1 support to help you practice the strategies outlined by your occupational therapist.
We serve Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley, including Abbotsford, Chilliwack, Mission, West Vancouver, North Vancouver, Vancouver, Burnaby, New Westminster, Richmond, Delta, Surrey, Langley, Maple Ridge, Pitt Meadows, Port Moody, and Coquitlam, and more.