For Collette Dowd, when pain strikes, she is left incapacitated. What feels like a series of electric shocks explode across her skull, while a burning sensation spreads across her face. Accompanying these symptoms are crippling migraines that often make 44-year old mum of two Collette want to claw at her own head.
Collette suffers from trigeminal neuralgia, which is caused by nerve compression at the base of her skull. There is no cure and even the strongest painkillers only help to reduce symptoms. When Collette was invited to a pioneering pain management programme at The Walton Centre, she was quick to agree.
The six-week programme uses a combination of physiotherapy, occupational therapy and cognitive behavioural therapy while connecting patients with others in a similar situation.
Colette says the programme has had a massive impact,
“Before going on the programme pain was the only thing I could see but now it’s not. It lives with me. It’s a lodger. The pain doesn’t get better but what has changed is how I am now able to cope with it.”
According to recent research over 50% of the adult population living in England are living with unnecessary pain rather than getting help from qualified medical professionals. It was also revealed that 77% of those in pain say it has a negative effect on their everyday life.
This new course allows patients to be seen by four specialist clinicians. These include:
- Psychologists who investigate the effect chronic pain has on the mood and behaviour.
- Physiotherapists who prescribe appropriate exercises.
- Occupational therapists who help patients learn to manage everyday activities.
- Specialists pain consultants who can advise on medication and other effective forms of pain relief.
On top of this, there are liaisons with neurology, palliative care and specialist pain psychology. This combination seems to be the most effective when treating patients with chronic pain.
Since completing the pain management programme Collette has signed up for a counselling course in the hope that one day she can help others going through chronic pain.