An Introduction To Treating Persistent Pain
It is often difficult to understand and explain high and prolonged levels of pain where a traditional tissue-based cause is lacking.
Have you ever stopped to consider how your communication differs when you are speaking with a patient versus a friend or family member who has confided in you with a problem?
Consider the two images below:
Despite the importance of validation as a means of explicitly communicating that we understand the legitimacy of other people’s thoughts and concerns, the evidence points towards a worrying lack of validation in healthcare consultations (Edmond and Keefe, 2015).
This poses an interesting dilemma when we consider the contrast between how we might naturally display empathy and validation when communicating with a friend or family member who is in distress, and how we might withhold this same innate human response when communicating with people in pain.
When listening to a friend’s distress it would be quite typical for many of us to say, “I’m so sorry to hear that. That sounds really hard. No wonder you’re upset. How have you been coping?”
Yet, despite this natural capacity to display empathy and validation, many clinicians may either avoid or forget to validate the experience by moving quickly onto the next question in their subjective examination format, or possibly even respond to the patient’s distress by asking them to rate their experience on a numerical scale between 0-10 (Padfield et al, 2010).
Edmond and Keefe (2015) suggest that many healthcare professionals are hesitant to display their empathy and validation skills because of a general concern that this will help reinforce the patient’s unhelpful pain behaviors. However, the evidence does not support this belief with indications that validation results in a reduction in pain, a decrease in worry, and fewer pain behaviors (Edlund et al, 2017, Linton et al, 2012). Furthermore, as Mantel’s quotation alludes to, empathetic validation can also lead to an increase in trust and a stronger therapeutic alliance.
MCSP, SRP, MSC, PG CERT
Mike is a physiotherapist, researcher and university lecturer with over twenty years experience of helping people to overcome pain.
He has an MSc in Education and Physiotherapy and is planning a PhD focusing on how people in pain make sense of their experience. His published work has received international praise from the leading names in neuroscience. Mike teaches across a variety of clinical settings including elite sports, and is an advisor on pain management to the International Olympic Committee.
Mike is a dedicated practice-based educator committed to providing evidence-based education to a wide variety of health professionals. His Know Pain workshops have provided clinicians around the world with practical pain education skills.
Course Material included in this course
An Introduction to Treating Persistent Pain
Pain - The Clinical Conundrum
What Do Patients Want?
Take Home Messages