“Most people I see are experiencing some kind of pain and our role in treating pain begins with education.”
Mr Dowley and his colleagues aim to help people understand their condition. The more fear and anxiety people have, the more pain they tend to feel.
“Once they have an understanding that what they are experiencing is perfectly normal and part of the process, we see people relax and subsequently, their pain lessens.
“We can then teach coping strategies for pain and help restore and maintain their ability to move.”
Mr Dowley sees rehabilitation as a process that includes all of life.
“Daily activities, such as pegging clothes on the washing line, ironing or unloading the dishwasher can be part of your exercise program.
“One day, you might be able to peg one shirt on the line, and if you do that every day until it becomes easier, then you do two shirts a day and so on, until you are able to return to your normal activities.”
A small percentage of people suffer from Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) in which the central nervous system overreacts to the original trauma.
“This complex problem involves the central nervous system, the peripheral nervous system, the tissues in the region of the injury, and even the immune system.
For example, for most people, a broken wrist heals easily. For others, it can develop into something much more traumatic.
“This overreaction by the central nervous system can increase pain, swelling, stiffness and even cause skin changes on the hand, such as increase hair growth, sweat or dryness,” says Mr Dowley.
“CRPS is an indicator of the profound effect our brains have on our bodies and our experience of pain.”