Have you been suffering from a particular ache or pain for more than three months? In the medical world, if you have the same pain in anywhere in your body consistently for more than twelve weeks it may be classified as chronic pain.

Contrary to popular belief, chronic pain doesn’t refer to the severity of the pain at all, rather it refers to the duration of the experience.

Chronic pain is now known to be different physiologically than the short lived acute pain from an injury such as a torn ligament or an inflamed tendon. It is for this reason that Osteopaths will offer very different advice for managing chronic pain as opposed to dealing with acute injuries.

Imagine you were trying to eat an apple the same way you would eat a kiwi fruit (with a spoon). They’re both fruit, but completely different in their texture and construction. You wouldn’t eat one the way you would eat the other. Similarly treating chronic pain should be handled differently to the way you treat acute pain. They’re both pain but completely different.

Acute pain usually goes away when there is no longer an underlying cause for the pain whereas chronic pain is pain that is ongoing and can continue even after the injury or illness that caused it has healed or gone away. Pain signals may remain active in the nervous system for weeks, months, or even years. Some people suffer chronic pain even when there is no past injury or apparent body damage.

Here are some little known facts about chronic pain:

  • According to the Australian Pain Management Association, one in five Australians suffer from chronic pain.
  • The amount of pain patients experience rarely correlates with the amount of tissue damage or inflammation they suffer from.
  • Exercise is good for you. It might take you a while to figure out which type of exercise works best for your body and how much exercise to do each week but your Osteopath can help you work this out.
  • Doing no exercise is JUST as bad as too much exercise. And likewise doing too much exercise is just as bad as no exercise.
  • Biopsychosocial* factors are really important! Being in pain is tiring both physically and mentally. Our Osteopaths often tell their chronic pain clients to do something everyday that makes them smile (even something as simple as getting out in the sunshine or listening to their favourite song). Happy hormones such as endorphins, dopamine and serotonin help the pain experience to be quietened in the brain.
  • The latest research suggests a very strong link between chronic pain and the gut. If you have allergies/IBS or just a little bit of indigestion and you also have chronic pain it can be helpful to seek some professional advice from a nutritionist or naturopath.

If you would like to speak to one of our Osteopaths about how we can help manage your chronic pain, or to make an appointment with our resident Nutritionist/Naturopath Merridy Casson, please call us on 1300 10 11 22, or email hello@southsideclinic.com.au .

By Dr Elizabeth Jennings (Osteopath)

Southside Clinic

Unley, South Australia

1300 10 11 22


Of course, each individual situation is different. For professional advice relating to your circumstance, please contact Southside Clinic to book an appointment with Dr Elizabeth Jennings, or any one of our Registered Osteopaths.

*The biopsychosocial model is a broad view that attributes disease outcome to the intricate, variable interaction of biological factors (genetic, biochemical, etc), psychological factors (mood, personality, behaviour, etc.), and social factors (cultural, familial, socioeconomic, medical, etc.).

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