Let’s talk about chronic pain | Rebecca Jane column

In 2018 I had a car accident that changed the next 3 years of my life! The impact of the accident caused numerous spinal problems and has essentially meant I haven’t been able to live pain free for over three years.

Wednesday, 20th October 2021, 3:45 pm
Rebecca Jane tries out cold therapy treatment at Clitheroe Cryo.

Ultimately I will need surgery to remove parts of my spine and fuse it together. I’m currently 36 and given the chances of paralysis from that surgery, the team of people who have been looking after me are exhausting all options before we resort to such drastic surgery.

I am on a CONSTANT quest to help ease my chronic pain, and because of that - I’ll try almost anything.

I have tried almost all medication available. My current daily medication is cocodamol day time, and a version morphine at night. Over the years we’ve tried tramadol, naproxen, various versions of morphine, antidepressants to block pain signals, tens machines and anything herbal I could get my hands on.

To be clear, none of these painkillers ever really worked. My current plan doesn’t work, it takes the edge off and that’s about it. Which is why I try sourcing anything that is holistic.

Over the last few weeks I’ve tried three things that have given me different versions of relief. For anyone with chronic pain, it may be worth some thought.

To give full disclaimer - given I have an actual spinal injury that will never be cured without surgery, the methods I tried would never give me full relief from my pain. It may give some people full relief, with a different injury but I was looking for what gave me the longest pain relief without medication.

Sports Physio - a wonderful lady called Janina put me through a massage assault course one Sunday morning. She came to my home, she was delightful, thoroughly explained the process and continued to release pressure points all over my back. A truly bizarre experience. Upon touching the pain points with her elbow, it was hell. I had to deep breathe my way through the pain, but oddly enough it subsides and releases the pain. Ultimately I did feel relief and a sense of relaxation once the treatment was over and I wouldn’t hesitate to have it again.

In my case, I believe I need this treatment weekly to see the best benefit.

It left me with around 24 hours of mild relief.

Next up…

CRYO Therapy aka COLD THERAPY.

Well, this was one that made me nervous. How do you fancy spending 3 minutes in -124?! I didn’t, but I’m willing to try anything these days.

CRYO therapy has a pretty steep reputation to uphold. It works by reducing your blood flow in Antarctic temperatures. It is known to significantly reduce inflammation, swelling, reduce nerve activity… it can help skin conditions, prevent dementia, Alzheimer’s and could help treat low risk tumours.

I’m a wimp, so let’s start there!

-124 in a swimsuit, is NOT my ideal way to spend a Monday afternoon. But, I’m desperate.

Here’s what I know…

It wasn’t horrific. Yes, ok. It was cold. No prizes for stating the obvious here. I had snow and ice forming on my arm hairs. I had to seriously concentrate on my breathing to get through the 3 minutes, but actually it went pretty quick! Let’s face it, when you’re in that kind of cold, you’re not going to be able to think of anything, let alone the time!

The result: I do see the benefit actually. I would say this helped me more than the sports physio. I had around 48 hours of pain relief, which is pretty good for my condition! If I went through a course of treatment, there is some hope it could actually ease my symptoms long term. I can also see why it would highly benefit skin conditions such as Acne or eczema. My skin was tight when we came out and tingly. Overall, I’ve heard great things and personally I would give it a go again, considering the wimp I am… this says A LOT.

Big shout out to Lee and Annabel who enticed the wonderful owners of the CRYO chamber at Clitheroe Leisure Centre to blast out ‘Let it go’ from the musical ‘Frozen’. Whilst I spent my 3 minutes counting down the cold clock, the humour was not lost on me!

Reflexology.

This one was a surprise! I was expecting a foot massage and I got my life history via pain points in my feet!

Solace Foot Health and reflexology are a wonderful team of ladies I have known for some years. A super supportive and delightful team who truly make you feel at home (p.s. they also actually do home visits!)

Their reflexologist came to my work place, sat me in the chair she had brought, put her music on and tended to my feet.

Essentially she did massage my feet, easing the tension in various places. What I didn’t know was that every place my feet had tension, it related to a part of my body with a problem.

When we came to the end of the hour, she said…

‘Do you have a problem with your back?’

‘Are you a bit depressed?’ (See last week's article!)

‘Is your stomach not quite right?’ (Correct, the medication I take often upsets my stomach and today was one of those days).

And a couple of other bits that we don’t need to mention in publications.

I was stunned. We hadn’t even spoken more than 20 words before the session and she knew EVERYTHING that was wrong with me, just by my feet.

If I’m honest, I wasn’t expecting this result. I would also say, out of all the holistic treatments I’ve tried over the last few weeks, this was the one that helped the most. Probably on a par with CRYO therapy, I got slightly over 2 days relief.

I couldn’t speak more highly of the whole experience. My reflexologist was a delight, it was easy, relaxing and actually worked!

From me, that’s all for this week.

If you’re struggling with chronic pain, I’d love to hear what helps you! I’m sure this will be a topic I revisit from time to time, and I’m open to trying almost all suggestions.

Sending love and best wishes to anyone in a similar boat as myself…