Understanding Your Story

Have you ever seen a practitioner who puts all the parts of your health story together?

Very often when you have an ongoing or chronic pain or illness you will have seen many medical practitioners and you probably have had a multitude of different tests and diagnosis, some of which fit and some that, in time, do not.

You are a product of your whole history; physical, emotional, social, biological/chemical and genetic, not just the part that is hurting in this moment. You are an individual and your story and how it has influenced your body and brain is unique. In the absence of pathology, such as a broken bone or cancer, we know how physical and emotional events influence the body and cause persistent pain and many other medically unexplained symptoms. Helping to understand all these factors and connect them will aid recovery from chronic pain and illness.

One of the ways of understanding your whole history is by using the SIRPA questionnaire. In answering this questionnaire it creates a timeline of your past medical history including your pain history, any additional symptoms that you also may struggle with such as anxiety, irritable bowel, chronic fatigue (for more see our Understanding Pain & Associated Symptoms page). It includes questions on tests you have had and notes on the specialists you have seen and any diagnosis you have been given. Sadly, not all medical practitioners are that well versed in the latest chronic pain or stress illness science and this can lead to misdiagnosis and a somewhat un-holistic view of your symptoms.

Identifying everything that was going on at the initial onset of your symptoms helps to clarify the contributing factors and also understand what triggers pain when you seemingly did nothing dramatic. It also helps us understand what may be maintaining pain from a previous history that just hasn’t resolved.

Our approach also takes into account your current stressors, persistent stressors and self induced stressors. We know that when the body feels under stress this increases pain levels but not only that, the stress mechanism can produce pain in the total absence of injury. When the body feels under threat from a stressful event, it increases the sense of danger in the nervous system. This ‘Danger In Me’ (or DIMs as described by Lorimer Moseley and David Butler from the Neuro Orthopaedic Institute) are any situations, physical or emotional, that produce a stress response and result in pain. Thankfully we are also able to have SIMs ‘Safety In Me’ that will counteract and calm the effect on the nervous system. This toolkit helps to identify your DIMs and build you SIMs. Stress is responsible for a multitude of symptoms.

Understanding your family history can help to build a picture of the environment that you grew up in. Events and situations that occur in childhood can have an effect of the way your nervous system functions.

By looking at the whole of your history from a medical, physical and emotional health perspective it means the significant factors can be identified and this helps us to formulate an individually tailored treatment and self management plan.

Watch: Understanding Your Chronic Pain Story

What's In Your Chronic Pain/Illness Backpack?

Other Key Knowledge Toolkits

You may be interested in our other ‘Key Knowledge’ chapters within the Mindbody Toolkit: