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  • Writer's pictureRay Chen

Significance of Safety

Safety is one of the most important concepts in pain management. Pain is a signal of danger so therefore to reduce pain, we must increase safety.

Safety across all the dimensions of health. Safety in the mind, body, and spirit. How safe can we make the pain sufferer feel in amongst the challenges of persistent pain.

Safety encompasses so many aspects of the human experience that needs to be considered in pain care. These include but are not limited to:

  • psychological safety - ability to be open and vulnerable without fear

  • physical safety - being able to trust your body

  • financial security - safety in providing shelter, food, etc.

  • environmental safety - ability to live a healthy life in a hazard free environment

  • spiritual safety - being allowed to believe in something greater than ourselves without judgement

  • safety with health professionals - feeling comfortable enough to express yourself freely and openly with a healthcare worker

  • safety of circumstances - ability to feel safe in different situations

All these aspects of safety, when attended to, can drastically improve a person's life and ability to live free of the burden of pain.

However, breaking down each category of safety in a pain client can lead us into the abyss of human suffering. Unfortunately, as clinicians we don't always have the answers. Our ability to sit, listen, and empathise with the suffering someone is going through may open the door to healing pain. Sometimes that is all that a patient needs

When treating people in pain, I am often acutely aware of the otherness of this person in front of me. Their culture, upbringing, education level, socioeconomic status, emotional state, trauma, and life experiences. However, I strongly believe in the human potential for resilience and growth in all of us.

I can also deeply connect to the universality of suffering in the people I see. Working in pain often shows me that we are all the same with only superficial differences between us. The strength of the human spirit often shines through in these sessions. When someone feels safe and heard, they become both open and fearless.

Pain crosses all boundaries between us. Understanding pain is about understanding others and ourselves.

We are all searching for safety. The safer we feel, the less pain we feel. Just like pain, the feeling of safety is universal. But understanding what someone needs to feel safe is challenging and sometimes those factors are outside of our control.

Pain care does not only fall on the individual who is suffering. It requires a whole community. The healthcare system is also responsible for the safety of an individual.

Too often do I hear how people have been made to feel unsafe by their treating practitioner.

"My doctor thinks it's all in my head"

"I've been told that I just have to live with it"

"They said that their is nothing left they can do"

These comments rupture the patient to clinician relationship. It leads to those feelings of helplessness and hopelessness that become so difficult to overcome.

We are all responsible in helping out with the disease of pain. A disease that impacts the individual, their friends and family, and society at large. From the words we use to the actions we take, we can make a difference.

Understanding, acknowledging, and managing pain is a journey of moving away from danger and towards safety.



P.S. Check out my FREE guide if you haven't done so below: 

Pain Coach, Integrative Physiotherapist


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