BREAKING THROUGH THE PAIN BARRIER; MIRROR HEALTH on a New Medical Technique; Help Tape Is Music to the Ears of Sufferers

Article excerpt

ELIZABETH Jones was wracked with constant pain after suffering a stroke.

It was debilitating and depressing and it turned the once cheerful, confident district nurse into a zombie, unable to go out with her husband or play with her grandchildren.

All treatment, including drugs and brain surgery, had failed. Elizabeth had virtually given up on life because of the incessant agony.

But thanks to the Pain Clinic at Liverpool's Walton Centre for Neurology and Neurosurgery, her future has changed.

Its pain management programme has enabled her to enjoy life for the first time since the stroke three years ago.

Chronic pain, which does not respond to conventional drugs or treatment, affects about four million people in Britain.

The pain management programme aims to relieve it in about 200 people a year, but to reach more sufferers it has produced audio tapes of the strategies.

Control

The intensive four-week course at the Clinic teaches chronic pain sufferers how to adopt a more positive approach to life.

Its physical and psychological techniques teach people to control their pain rather than letting it control them.

They undergo physiotherapy, exercise classes and swimming. They study relaxation, stress management and how to improve their self-esteem.

They also have lectures on the physical nature of pain - how it travels up the nerve pathways of the body - and the psychological aspects.

"I am a totally different person," says Elizabeth, 54, of Anglesey, North Wales. "The pain is still there but I have learned how to cope with it. It is no longer the focal point of my life.

"I had lost all my confidence. I tended to give in to the pain so I couldn't even walk up stairs. All I felt like doing was sitting indoors. Now I am able to go out with my husband and hope to invite my grandchildren to stay, which was out of the question before.

"Last week I went shopping and walked upstairs to the first floor. I hadn't been able to do that for years.

"My husband and daughter have noticed the change in me. I am much more cheerful and positive about life."

Pain Clinic director Dr Bill Wiles recognises these benefits. …