It seems like it has taken forever, but I’m finally in the Pain Management Program at UNMC. The purpose of the program is to manage pain through new behaviors. This includes eliminating pain medications, education, exercise, training the central nervous system and physical therapy.
Because I have fibromyalgia, just the effort of getting to the clinic by 8:00 am and spending the day in the activities was a significant trial for me. The schedule has included an evaluation of my flexibility limitations, stretching, relaxation techniques, education on biopsychosocial rehabilitation, endurance tests and icing. Quite a bit of information and activity for someone who has had cognitive issues and has backed off activity for the past 4 months.
One of the interesting things that I am learning is that since my pain is not acute, that it is not causing damage by continuing to work through it. Because of that we don’t talk about pain levels when doing activities. Appropriate levels of activity are decided between the staff and me and the pain shouldn’t be a factor in continuing the activity or not.
In comes the ice!
A few months ago I would have been terrified of the thought of putting cold on my skin. Warm is good! was my mantra. I have since started using ice but not in the way I learned today. At the UNMC Pain Management Program they use chipped ice wrapped in wet towels. I applied it to my neck, upper shoulders and the small of my back for 15 minutes. The idea is that it numbs the skin and into the muscles to disconnect the brain from what it is perceiving as pain. It causes a kind of reset of the sensory system. I was apprehensive but trusted the team. The results on my first try have been pretty impressive. I’ll be anxious to see what happens the rest of the week.
I know many things work together to cause us to present the symptoms of fibromyalgia. Cognitive issues have been one of my main complaints. I am hoping that reduction in pain, improved sleep and eliminating medicines will help me regain some focus and problem solving ability. This is a total shift from the treatments I have received over the past several years. The idea is to put not just the responsibility but the capability into my hands to determine how I will function with chronic pain.