This is written from my perspective of living with chronic pain so as such is anecdotal however I know that what I experience is common and that dogs experience the exact same symptoms. Some days you would not know I had chronic pain to look at me and I often won’t tell you as after a while if someone asks how you are you just say “fine”. Some days you might know as I look drawn and tired. Some days I can’t function at all.
There are two types of pain acute pain and chronic pain.
Acute pain is a useful pain. It protects your body from further injury, for example, if you put your hand on a hot surface the pain you feel makes you move your hand away pretty quick! Or, if you injure a limb, acute pain serves to immobilise it to prevent further injury. Acute pain is short-lived.
Chronic pain serves no purpose at all and lasts long after the original injury has healed. It can continue for months, years, indefinitely. Knowing that the pain you are experiencing serves no purpose just adds insult to injury.
Chronic pain can come and go. It can lull you into a false sense of well-being as you experience a period of low or no pain and feel on top of the world then WHAM! It is back with a vengeance and life suddenly becomes incredibly difficult.
When I’m having a pain flare-up, I become clumsy and bump in to things as my body is not functioning as it should and spatial awareness is compromised.
Being in pain long term is incredibly draining, it can cause depression, make you not want to socialise or do the things that usually you enjoy. Chronic pain makes you intolerant of noise and busy places and at times you just want to cover your ears, close your eyes and scream for it to stop. Dogs feel this too but they understand it even less than we do and they can’t always find the peace and quiet they crave. If you have a dog with a chronic condition and can create them a quiet, comfortable place where they can escape the rest of the household, they will be so grateful.
Chronic pain causes compensatory pain, for example, my pain originates in my neck however by adapting my posture to try to ease the pain I get pain and tightness in my hip, hamstring and foot. Compensatory pain is something that massage can really help with for both dogs and humans. What is also crucial but at times may feel like the last thing you want to do, is to keep active and fit. Not moving your body and allowing your muscles to waste will cause even more problems. I walk every day, which is also amazing for your mental well-being, attend Pilates classes and have regular massage treatments. Getting out every day for a walk is also very important for a dog’s mental health, and massage and Pilates is very similar to Galen Myotherapy treatments and the functional exercises we teach clients to do for their dogs.