Pain, Resilience, and Opportunity
by Bill Cioffredi, PT
Over the course of my 30-plus-year career as a physical therapist, I have gotten a lot of satisfaction from helping people deal with what I saw as a lot of mechanical kinds of pain, and if I could help them with their pain through understanding the biomechanics and correcting things, it was really terrific.
More Than Mechanics
But I noticed, over time, more and more people who had histories of anxiety issues, panic attack problems, nervousness, and depression—and many people were on medications for these kinds of things. I began to see that there was a lot more than mechanics behind the pain problems of the people that I was seeing, and I realized that I really needed to get better at understanding that kind of “needingness” to really help people further.
I consider it an interesting paradox that there are now ways, through healthcare, that allow people to live a lot longer than they used to. The question and the challenge that follows is, “Are they, are we, living happier?” especially over those longer periods. This is where the concepts of pain and resilience and opportunity converge.
Building Competence and Confidence
As physical therapists, we have the pleasure to treat people when they come to us because they have a pain problem, and through our work with them we help them develop their competence. But in fact we also have an opportunity to help them develop their confidence—confidence that they can handle whatever it is that’s giving them trouble. It’s true that they usually come to us because they’ve got a pain problem, but you can almost take that concept of the “pain problem” and insert just “problem,” and then what we’re doing is building people’s competence and confidence to handle whatever is in front of them.
And so the topic of resilience is very interesting to me for those reasons, not only just for the pain problems that we see people for, but for the “livingness” parts of things. I have developed a deeper appreciation that when I provide care with this in mind, the pain condition becomes an opportunity…both for the person I’m treating and for me.
LEARN MORE about Pain and Resiliency
I was honored to host Dr. Adam Schwarz of the Hanover Continuity Clinic as the featured presenter at our Fall Speaker Series event on November 2, 2016, and his lecture “The Clinical Science of Resiliency” is available to view on the Cioffredi & Associates YouTube channel.