Treating the Pain
Your relative’s treating team will be addressing the pain as part of the goal planning process. This means that your relative, the consultant, nurses and other therapists will work together to address the pain.
Treatment may take the form of medication but research has shown that in many cases completely eliminating all pain is not achievable. However, with a range of treatment strategies, pain can be minimised and managed so that it does not disrupt your relative’s rehabilitation.
Physiotherapists can advise about exercises and posture, techniques such as how to transfer in a way to minimise wear and tear to shoulders how to limit activities that worsen pain. Sometimes they will recommend direct treatments such as acupuncture.
Occupational Therapists might be involved in helping your relative understand what makes the pain better or worse and work on pacing activities (looking at the way and how often your relative does certain activities).
Nobody, except the person experiencing it, really knows what the pain is like. Research has shown that how we think about pain can influence our mood, what we feel able to do and even the pain level itself. Equally, high levels of pain can cause or aggravate emotional distress.
Psychologists may work with people to help them find strategies for managing the pain. These might include looking at an individual’s experience of pain and their thoughts, feelings and behaviour in relation to the pain.
Techniques such as refocusing attention and relaxation can be useful and can be learned.
During your relative’s rehabilitation they will be invited to attend an education session on pain and should be offered a leaflet about managing pain after SCI. It may be useful for you to read this as well.