Identifying With Chronic Pain and Learning To Feel Safe | Joseph Kleman
Vanquishing Chronic Pain and Anxiety Through Play
🏃♂️ABOUT JOSEPH KLEMAN: 💪
Joe Kleman is a logistics expert turned physical therapist. His innovative therapy, MOVE, aims to revolutionize physical therapies by utilizing integrative movement and play. He is based in Raleigh, NC. This is his second appearance on BEST MEDICINE.
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- Why you should stop identifying with your pain and anxiety, and how medical providers can help patients achieve this
- Systemic sources of anxiety
- Why all health practitioners are mental health practitioners.
- A Medical Gaze
HOW TO STOP IDENTIFYING WITH YOUR PAIN AND ANXIETY
I have at least one patient a week come into my office (or my online clinic at wellspringcare.org) to talk to me about their "Chronic Pain." It seems even 25 year olds are experiencing pain now. Let's talk about it.
First off it's not "your pain."
What does that mean? Well it means if you don't want pain, stop talking about it like it's your property.
I refuse to validate ego-identifications with negative outcomes. This might seem petty at the level of back or knee pain, but it is essential with other conditions like cancer.
You are not your "disease." You are a human being with a body that is capable of healthy function. You're experiencing pain right now, but we're going to fix it.
Many doctors will immediately dismiss this line of inquiry as "woo-woo" or "out of their scope of practice."
This gets into a point I want to make to healthcare providers.
All health practitioners are mental health practitioners.
If you're impacting someone's body, life, finances, or state of being in any way you're effecting their mental health. It is a fool's errand for Doctors to pretend the body, the mind, and their parts don't all effect each other.
Brendon Marotta has called this "The Medical Gaze." We study individual body parts and organs so much that we often forget that our patients health is a bio-psycho-social system that must be viewed holistically. This hurts the patients.
Second, when a patient experiences chronic pain, we must consider the possibility that the pain is psycho-somatic.
Dr John Sarno wrote a fantastic book on why Back Pain is the new "Ulcers" and are caused by stress.
(Ego identification turns this into a feedback loop)
Here's a short primer:
Third, we must not be afraid of physically feeling pain in our goal of transcending it.
Don't get me wrong - if you have a knee injury it would be foolish to do heavy squats.
But movement - natural play based movement, or standard behaviors like walking or chores - can do wonders for your muscles and joints.
The old standard for physical pain used to be PRICE
Protect, Rest, Ice, Compress, Elevate.
Turns out this is kind of a misnomer. Specifically, these tactics all prevent inflammation of pained areas.
Normally, preventing unnecessary inflammation is a terrific strategy.
But in the case of injuries and pain, you actually WANT blood flow to the area to aid with healing.
The MOVE Approach to pain relief:
Movement, not rest.
Options: offer other options for cross training.
Vary rehabilitation with strength, balance and agility drills.
Ease back to activity early for emotional strength.
Easing back into movement rather than waiting in bed for it to totally heal is better for your mental health as well.
Many people become afraid to move in certain ways and develop anxiety loops around their favorite activities, their bodies, and "their pain."
If you demonstrate to yourself that conscientious, healthy, natural movement can help HEAL in injury and reduce pain, that anxiety will not be present.
Move to heal minor injuries.