What Osteopaths do when they have back pain

Louise Field Registered Osteopath and SIRPA Trained practitioner writes…

Louise Field Registered Osteopath and SIRPA Trained practitioner

Over the weekend I have been experiencing some lower back pain, which made me think about what my patients are going through! So many things go through your head. Oh no… not now!! Panic!! Fear!! Or I don’t have time for this or to rest. 

Why is it we can be so hard on ourselves? It may be down to subconscious programming or our belief systems around our body? At the end of the day we are only human.

It’s interesting to notice our automatic internal dialogue. Can you catch yourself and reframe any negative self talk i.e. Rather than ‘there’s something wrong with me’ or ‘I must be weak!’. How about ‘What do I need’ or ‘I am healthy and strong’?

Through osteopathy, SIRPA training and mentoring, I have had some understanding of body awareness of how to get the right help and support. 

Here are a list of things I like to implement when I have pain 

  • Acknowledge and thank my body for letting me know
  • Observe the symptoms 
  • Let myself know I am safe and it’s ok
  • Check in? – What was going on around the time of onset or leading up to? Any stress?
  • What do I need? – Self compassion, rest, to get something off my chest
  • How can I take the pressure off, and regulate my nervous system?
  • What is in my control- book an osteopathic appointment or seek support or advice.
  • What are my symptoms saying NO too- Maybe I have a stressful event coming up, or maybe I’m just about to relax and go on holiday and I’m feeling a bit run down.

For me, this weekend, I have had some stress and a sense of overdoing it! ‘We are human beings not human doings’ and I hadn’t been listening to my body.

A different way to think about pain

Pain is like a smoke alarm and can be a way of our brain/ body communicating with us, sensing danger and not actually any tissue damage. Pain can be emotional and your brain letting you know there is something amiss and trying to keep you safe. These neural pathways and circuits can be triggered by stressful events, suppressed emotions and certain environments.

Pain and the brain

Here Julie Gover explains about what can influence pain and the brain in her excellent TEDx talk.

Do you know what percentage of chronic pain that is not related to tissue damage?

85% of chronic pain is due to mindbody symptoms. It is real pain and it is always important to seek medical advice if you are concerned but remember that in the majority of chronic pain cases there is no tissue damage or underlying pathology. If you want to know more, and about how to recover, here is an interesting podcast by Dr Howard Schubiner and Dr Rangan Chatterjee.


Have you heard of SIRPA- The Stress Illness Recovery Practitioners Association? It is a great organisation and has lots of resources for supporting patients with chronic pain. Pippa and I are both SIRPA trained practitioners and bring this latest knowledge into all our appointments. The SIRPA site explains more about the latest chronic pain recovery approach and has lots of patient recovery stories.


A Mindbody Approach

When we are in pain we can often feel helpless, not knowing where to turn or how to help ourselves. But with this extra pain science knowledge I now know what to do. Firstly, I will be booking an osteopathy session for myself but until then I will be doing some gentle mindbody exercises. 

Here are some of my favourite go to mindbody tools in times of pain 

  • Asking myself /body what its needs
  • Journaling/ free writing
  • Hot/cold packs
  • Pillow under knee (lying on my back) or between knee (when lying on my side)
  • Psoas and diaphragm relaxation exercise
  • Emotional awareness
  • Meditation
  • Contemplation (pausing), observing and not attaching to symptoms
  • Somatic tracking/ pain reprocessing
  • Qi gong or mindful movement 
  • Yoga (under supervision from my Iyengar yoga teacher 1:1 session)

The most under rated tool is journaling…. It can really give us insight and clarity to any suppressed emotions, stress and belief systems behind symptoms. After journaling, I can often feel like the weight has been taken off my shoulders or chest! I’m always surprised how much tension I had been holding onto. 

If you are struggling with pain and would like some advice please give the practice a call. If you are unsure what support your need or would like to discuss further we offer a free 20 min discovery call.

You can Make An Appointment online or call 01825 840582

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