Leading medical journal, The Lancet, recently published a series of articles about the ineffective results in the treatment of back pain.  They stated that the medical profession should stop offering “ineffective and potentially harmful treatments” and that “strong drugs, injections and surgery are generally overkill”.  It’s important to note that it’s not just back pain because current approaches to chronic pain, such as injections, steroids and surgery have also been dispelled by research as being ineffective.

With medical understanding catching up with chronic pain research is it now time to ensure health professionals have the skills and confidence to deal with the true causes of chronic pain and know what to do when the doctors can’t find anything wrong?  We at SIRPA believe it is time to create an integrated treatment approach which doesn’t just manage pain, but supports individuals through their recovery from pain.  A bold statement but one which is absolutely possible.

Georgie Oldfield MCSP

G.OldfieldFor more than 10 years Georgie Oldfield MCSP has been working with psychophysiological disorders (aka medically-unexplained symptoms or mind-body conditions), helping individuals recover with SIRPA’s educational and self-empowering programme.  Her patient recovery programme has seen life-changing recoveries from Fibromyalgia, RSI, Sciatica and many more persistent pain conditions and her book ‘Chronic Pain: Your Key to Recovery’ continues to inspire hope amongst sufferers worldwide.

Testimonial: “The pain has gone completely, and I continue to use some of the strategies to keep a balanced, healthy approach in my life. Thank you, Georgie, for creating such helpful and healing materials.”  Jessica

Georgie has been featured in The Daily Mail, Women and Home, Sky TV and has also hosted two international Chronic Pain conferences in the UK at the Royal Society of Medicine in London.  As well as having a thriving clinical practice, through SIRPA, Georgie has created an evidence-based, online learning pathway for health professionals.  This is providing an experiential learning opportunity aimed at improving the provision of chronic pain treatment across the UK and further afield.

Approach overview

Dr Sarno & G.OldfieldThere is some truth in the statement ‘it’s all in your head’ but, unlike common interpretations, this does not mean the pain is imagined or not real.  On the contrary, the mind has the capacity to create very real, physical (and often debilitating) symptoms as part of our primal ‘fight or flight’ response.  This protects us from what are perceived to be very threatening, unresolved emotions.  Developed from an approach created by John E Sarno MD from the United States, the programme that Georgie and SIRPA-trained practitioners use with their clients is an empowering programme.  This programme supports individuals through a journey of discovery, as well as helping clients identify and address the underlying causes of their chronic pain.  During the programme clients are also taught how to unlearn the neural pain pathways and regain their zest for life.

Numerous research studies demonstrate the lack of correlation between pain and posture, structure and biomechanics.  Studies also demonstrate the very strong links between stress, trauma and adverse childhood experiences with chronic pain.  For example, did you know that by the time we are about 45 years old, 81% of us have some form of disc degeneration, yet don’t have pain?  Did you know too that one of the biggest predictors of acute pain becoming chronic is not how severe the impact or physical damage, but an individual’s negative beliefs about pain, depression at the time of the injury and any previous trauma? (see infographic below)

Gaining understanding and Hope

If you are new to this approach this infographic is a great introduction to some of the evidence.  The evidence demonstrates the need for us to place more emphasis on the emotional, psychological and environmental aspects of our clients’ situations and condition. This patient leaflet also offers a clear explanation of the psychophysiological explanation for chronic pain, with some advice and resources to help.  Time and time again this programme has resulted in life-changing recoveries, such as those below.

Click the links to listen to Marie and  Ali talking about their own recoveries. Lucy is another lady who is also thrilled with her recovery from chronic pain – When I began working with Georgie on the SIRPA recovery programme I had constant back pain, leg pain, neck and arm pain and was unable to walk far, use a keyboard or lift anything, let alone work.  Now I am living without pain and feel like I have got my life back.  I am back at work and have been on walking holidays as well as begun skiing and water-skiing again.”

Training for Health Professionals

Our training for health professionals and coaches, which teaches delegates to integrate this approach into their own work, has now moved online and therefore is available to everyone wherever they live.  Information about SIRPA’s training can be found HERE.  Included in the training is two months free access to an interactive monthly membership package.  This provides practitioners with support and guidance as they gain experience working in this field.

D. EliotDamaris Eliot MCSP is a Physiotherapist who is currently enjoying the member benefits – “As a Physiotherapist, the SIRPA training has completely opened up my understanding of chronic pain and how I am able to help my patients recover and regain their lives.  The benefits I receive from being a SIRPA member is now providing me with the peer support and additional learning that is helping me build on what I have learned and more fully integrate it into my clinical practice”