Sunday, 1 June 2014

The Bristol Pain Relief Centre - New service to help people in chronic pain in Bristol!

It’s been a while since I posted a blog on this site. Since the last time I posted a blog I have been setting up a new service in my home town Bristol, whilst at the same time meeting some deadlines for the Masters programme I’m doing. Unfortunately, this has meant that I haven’t posted any blogs. So, I would like to explain a little bit about the new service, which I feel will really help people with chronic pain to get their lives back again.

I will be teaming up with a local experienced GP and psychotherapist, who like me both recognise the importance of finding the underlying causes of pain. By working together we feel we will be able to provide input from three different perspectives to provide the best treatment for people. The three of us understand that purely a medical model alone, is not enough to effectively treat chronic pain.

Recent evidence shows that there are many different factors that lead to the onset of pain and the maintenance of pain, as I’ve described before it can be influenced by emotions, thought processes, pressure or stress at work, lack of sleep, traumatic events in our life and our general behaviour patterns. All of these psychological factors have been shown to affect people’s pain thresholds and tolerance. New research has also shown that physiological changes occur within the central nervous system and the brain as a consequence of these psychological processes. A response known as central sensitisation, which is hyperactivity and hypersensitivity of the central nervous system, occurs with the psychological factors mentioned above and in lots of different chronic pain states. When this happens it means that something that previously wouldn’t have felt painful now feels painful.

With all of these things being able to influence pain, it is easy to see why medication alone is not effective in treating chronic pain. That’s why at the BPRC, we feel that by acknowledging that psychological processes influence pain, helping people to gain perspective on this and giving them support and useful tools to help improve how they feel, we can help improve their pain. As a physiotherapist I help people to become aware of how stress, be that external or internal, affects pain and through using the Sirpa approach I help people to reduce stress and improve pain. Tania is a psychotherapist, who is very experienced in helping people with anxiety, stress and depression and by helping people with these problems it also helps reduce their pain.  Don as an experienced GP understands that by making people aware that psychology can influence pain works alongside medication and other targeted treatments.

There is a lot of emerging evidence that psychological interventions do have a positive influence on pain. There is now a growing body of evidence to support the use of mindfulness and meditation as a technique to help with pain. Recent research has shown that mindfulness and meditation can reverse the physiological changes that cause pain. It has been known for a while that CBT can have a positive effect on pain and evidence is also growing for Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), a similar approach to CBT. Emerging techniques such as private emotional disclosure or therapeutic journaling are also beginning to gain support in the literature. In time I’m sure we will see much more evidence and support in the medical literature for these treatments.

There is an interesting article on the American Psychology Associations website, which reviews the influence of psychological intervention on chronic pain. The evidence suggests that treatment is more effective when psychological science is involved. Here is a link to the article:


At the BPRC we have experience of using these techniques and we regularly implement them to help people with chronic pain. One type of technique may be more beneficial for one person than it is for someone else and some people need more than one approach.  This is why we do an in-depth assessment and take the time to see what the best approach is for the individual. This way you get the most effective treatment from the start!

Take a look at our website to see how we’re different. There’s lots of useful information for people who are in pain and medical professionals who treat people in pain:


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