Often on initial consultations with remote clients. I discuss what I will label as the pinball effect. This is when you experience pain and are worried about experiencing pain and the meaning of the pain that you’re experiencing so you begin avoiding activities that are painful. In the opposite end of the spectrum, we become frustrated with experiencing pain and just wanting to do life activities. From there we begin pushing further and further into our pain experience in order to accomplish the activities that we value. Both of these are opposite poles that we really don’t want to find ourselves regularly going to, and the pinball effect becomes where we are bouncing between each of these poles, bouncing from one end to the other, really struggling and becoming frustrated with this process and trying to figure out a path forward. Layer in multiple clinician visits with various narratives in an attempt to explain the pain, sending us down multiple pathways for trying to fix the pain, many of which aren’t beneficial, and often more harmful simply in the narratives given to validate the intervention, and it will feel as though we are making no real progress outside of just bouncing around within the pinball game becoming hopeless.
This is difficult to address and redirecting often takes some time working together with folks to get through this process and find more fruitful self management strategies. If you find this relatable or are struggling with chronic pain, please know there are those of us who specialize in this and are willing to help.