As part of the treatment for my Fibromyalgia I am attending a seven week pain management course, which aims to help sufferers of chronic pain deal with the whole host of issues that dealing with chronic pain brings.  It’s a holistic approach involving Occupational Therapists, Psychologists, Pharmacists and Physiotherapists. At the end of last week I went to my first session and I thought I would share a bit of what it is like on my blog.

Pain Management Course Week 1 - Daisy

The Pain Management Course is in a group setting and whilst things that other members of the group say are strictly confidential and I will of course not be sharing, but we are allowed to share the information and techniques we are given. The session lasts from 9.30am until 1pm each week for seven weeks – which is a bit full on (I struggle to sit still for a few minutes let alone hours!) But we are allowed to walk and move around as much as we like and there are lots of comfort aids available too.

After a quick introduction to what the Pain Management Course would entail, we moved on to a discussion about pain, and what we hope to get from the course.  It’s interesting to hear what other people want to change and improve in their lives. I am hoping that the course will give me some techniques for helping me to cope with being in constant pain on a daily basis.

After a short break we moved on to the part of the morning I was looking to least, exercise  – we started off with some stretches – which are always ‘fun’ as my hypermobile joints mean the stretches don’t always have the desired effect. It was then on to something which resembled circuits – but the aim was to do certain tasks for a minute, the total would then be halved to give us our baseline, and it is this baseline which will form the exercise pattern we will follow over the rest of the course. Each of the six exercises had three levels, with varying degrees of difficulty so that we could each find something we felt comfortable doing (or rather didn’t feel too uncomfortable doing)

So for example, Exercise 1 – level 1 was leg extensions whilst sat on a chair, level 2 was standing up from the chair and then sitting down repeatedly and level three was squats using an exercise ball which was placed between your back and the wall. These were then repeated as many times as comfortable in a minute (whilst retaining a decent quality of movement) so say that you chose level 2 – you would see how many times you could get up out of the chair and then sit back down in one minute – say you did 30 (for a nice round easy number) then your baseline would be between 50% and 90% of 30 – depending on how hard you found the task, so if you found it hard then your baseline would be 50% meaning 15 would be how many you would start at next week. And if you found the exercise easy then you would go for something nearer the 90% so 27.

This baseline is the number that you start from next week – and then build up from on a weekend basis – this means you can pace your activities – building your strength and stamina up without causing yourself a flare up. Your baseline for an activity is also what you would return to during a flare up (if you can).

I am really interested to see how this works for me as I often find that on my ‘good days’ I over do things meaning I set myself back the next day (or the next few days) so pacing should help me make sure I am good and don’t over do things.

After all that exercise (all 6 minutes of it spread out over an hour) we then moved on to relaxation. This is something I find intensely difficult and I didn’t really like the idea of sitting in a room full of near strangers with my eyes closed tensing and relaxing each part of my body. But I tried and then I opened my eyes to a delightful headache which lasted for the rest of the afternoon. Clearly relaxation – or that type of relaxation on that day didn’t work for me, but I will try each type that we will be doing over the seven weeks and hoping that one of them works for me.

The last part of the first session of the Pain Management Course was homework (yay…not) we have to spend a few minutes out in nature each day – focusing on nothing but what we can see and hear in an effort to disconnect with our bad habits and just to relax and enjoy the moment. As homework goes it’s not too bad. I just wish I could remember to do it as so far I have forgotten on about half the days!

I am really looking forward to what next week will bring, and I am hopeful that I will find some little things to help me. I am particularly looking forward to the session the psychologist will be running on sleep.  I am hoping to write an update each week, and then it means I can also re-read these posts and remember what we did on the Pain Management Course too.