As the founder of SIRPA, Georgie Oldfield MCSP will explain the latest developments within this field in the UK and Europe along with our plans to continue raising awareness of this exciting and pioneering approach.
A discussion led by Dave Clarke MD about the process initiated by adverse childhood experiences that can ultimately lead to physical symptoms. A variety of successful treatment measures also will be reviewed
Learn from science-writer and award winning author, Donna Jackson Nakazawa, how our early chronic stressors shape our biology in ways that pre-determine our adult health and how this understanding could improve your client outcomes
Dr.Schubiner will provide an algorithm for physicians and therapists to differentiate between structural and psychophysiological disorders (PPD). He will also discuss the basics of the treatment of PPD.
The key theories of emotion, emotional dysregulation and pain will be explained by Dr Angela Cooper who will also introduce three discharge pathways for unconscious anxiety and the development of chronic symptoms
David Hanscom MD will explain how pain pathways become permanently etched into the brain and intertwined with the emotional circuits and why the solution lies in the sequence of: awareness, hope, forgiveness and play.
Testimonial from Dr Martin Johnson, Vice-President of the British Pain Society, Royal College of General Practitioner’s Lead for Chronic Pain & Co-chair of the Chronic Pain Policy Coalition
“I will freely admit, having dealt with chronic pain for over 25 years, that I was very sceptical about Georgie’s work. Attending the SIRPA conference completely changed my mind! Without exaggeration the conference was one of the most interesting and enjoyable meetings I have been to for years. Here was something different that made sense of many of the anomalies that I have witnessed in pain medicine for years. The speaker presentations were of the highest quality, presenting high grade evidence and rationale scientific explanations for ACE theories. I will be very happy to support SIRPA in the future and look forward to the next conference.”
About the day
On 15th October 2017, SIRPA was pushing the boundaries of our understanding of the cause and treatment of chronic pain, when some of the leading lights in this pioneering field coming over from the US to present their clinical and research findings. For people with an interest in chronic pain and the mysteries of medically unexplained symptoms, this was an opportunity to learn to identify and treat the underlying causes of these persistent conditions, with the aim of enabling individuals to ‘recover’ and regain their lives.
The foundation of our approach is the pioneering work of John E Sarno MD – described as ‘America’s Best Pain Doctor’ in Forbes magazine – who found that most chronic pain is a manifestation of unresolved or avoided emotional turmoil. For over four decades, this insight enabled tens of thousands of people to recover from debilitating chronic pain and other symptoms using a non-physical, mindbody approach. Sadly Dr Sarno died in June, just a day before his 94th birthday so this conference will be in memory of this remarkable man whose work continues to evolve and change lives through his own writing and through those of us who are following on with his work.
Over the past 10 years, the pain science and evidence base has caught up to support the theory that chronic pain is a result of activated neural pathways involved in the primal ‘fight or flight’ response which form part of a protective response from the ‘threat’ of acknowledging ‘painful’ unresolved or avoided emotional turmoil/trauma. Our treatment programme has also evolved as awareness has grown and includes; education about pain science and how the fight or flight response works, understanding and changing behaviour that might unintentionally keep it turned on and working through current, and sometimes past, challenges that trigger our danger signals. Once the signals are turned off, the pain will usually improve and often resolve completely.
Speaking at this conference were three of the leading specialists in this field who explained the evidence base related to the concept and approach and our keynote speaker was award-winning science journalist Donna Jackson Nakazawa who discussed the decades of research linking adverse childhood experiences to ill-health, including chronic pain, in later life.
“In the past seven years I have attended many events on Chronic Pain throughout Europe. I can honestly say that your event and one I attended in Brussels last November were the best I ever attended.”
John Lindsay, Chair of Chronic Pain Ireland (2015)
“Fascinating day with an extremely high calibre of speakers. Huge learning professionally and personally.”
Lynn Crescens Smith, Trainee in Psychodynamic Counselling (2017)
“SIRPA’s Chronic Pain inaugural conference was inspirational. The NHS would save a fortune and peoples’ lives would be improved if the Recovery Programme was prescribed to everyone who is told by their doctor “We can’t find anything wrong with you.”
Marian Nicholson of Pain UK & Pain Alliance Europe (2015)
“”Wow!!!….. what an amazing day. A massive congratulations to you, the speakers and your team. ALL the speakers were fantastic and I learned SO much, not only about the effects of chronic stress/pain on my patients but also how it has influenced me!!”
Yvonne Frampton, Physiotherapist Denmead (2017)
“Thoroughly enjoyed the conference. The faculty included enthusiastic professionals from a wide spectrum of specialities, with psychiatrists and spinal surgeons sharing the same platform and narrative with psychotherapists, physical therapists and gastroenterologists. The focus was on psychophysiological disorders. This provided a well-argued framework for considering potential therapeutic recovery from chronic pain rather than restricting the approach to suppression or acceptance of pain.”
Dr Anthony Davies, Chronic Pain Consultant at Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust (2015)
“This is a revolution in the treatment of chronic health conditions.”
Dr Liz Croton, UK GP (2015)
“I’ve rarely been at a conference where every one of the speakers held my attention so totally throughout their presentation. I learned a lot and am definitely inspired to learn more.”
Carolyn Norgate, Attendee (2017)
Testimonial for our 2017 conference by Robin Lansman D.O. ( BSO 1988) LONDON – Practicing Osteopath and Immediate Past President of Institute of Osteopathy
“The range of speakers demonstrated a huge depth of understanding and knowledge, based on their individual professional work which flowed extremely well throughout the day. They all underpinned the contribution emotions have in the pain component of many common patient presentations, based on a variety of case studies ranging from bowel dysfunction to musculo-skeletal pain. It is clear that the organic or functional basis of any patient presentation should be fully taken into account for a full diagnosis and appropriate treatment – but excluding the “longer burn” time line of emotional stress, going back even decades, would miss a critical part of understanding the bigger picture of a patient’s over-all health – making all health care practitioners more aware of the “emotional factor” and how it fits in, can only be good for patients and perhaps even shorten their often long search for help and ultimately help reduce their suffering.”
Research has shown that pain perception occurs in the brain, affected by many factors including adverse experiences in childhood and later, as well as our personalities, fears and anxieties. Consistent with this concept, brain imaging has shown that once tissues have healed from an injury, if pain becomes chronic then activity in the brain moves from the cortical areas associated with the site of injury to the limbic/emotional areas. Research has also shown that whether a pain condition becomes chronic is influenced by an individual’s personality, negative pain beliefs, depressed mood and also greater exposure to past traumatic life events.
Studies have also shown no link between pain and posture, structure or biomechanics despite this myth remaining prevalent in medical practice, health education and product marketing In addition, research shows only a weak relationship between back pain and the amount of spinal degeneration found on imaging studies. There is also increasing evidence that the best outcomes for patients with chronic pain and functional illness derive from use of the biopsychosocial model rather than attempting ‘management’ of a physical problem.
The SIRPA community is part of a growing group of specialists and health professionals worldwide who recognise that chronic pain is a psychophysiological condition, often triggered and driven by sensitised, learned nerve pathways.
Full recovery is possible once the underlying emotional causes are identified and addressed. This is an exciting outcome that can revolutionise conventional care. When practitioners add this knowledge to their existing training and experience they experience the rewards of their patients achieving remarkably improved outcomes.