Welcome to the Bristol Pain Relief Centre. My name is Matt Kinal and I’m a Specialist Pain Physiotherapist & SIRPA Practitioner who works with people who have long term and complex pain conditions. I started the Bristol Pain Relief Centre in 2013 in response to the need for a fresh approach regarding the treatment of persistent pain in Bristol and the South West. Have a read to see why we are different:
Individually tailored treatment
The traditional view of pain is that it is caused by tissue damage or a postural/structural dysfunction in the body. New research now tells us that this isn’t always the case and that pain doesn’t necessarily mean tissue damage has occurred. It also shows that emotional, cognitive and lifestyle factors have a much bigger part to play in the production of pain than previously thought. That’s why our service doesn’t just focus on the immediate physical problem but also looks to the bigger picture. We aim to treat you as a unique and whole individual rather than focusing solely on the localised area of your body where an issue has arisen.
Physical and psychological stress
One of the main reasons I am so enthusiastic about working with people who have chronic pain problems is that I suffered with Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) for a long period in my early to mid-twenties. After a while I realised that these symptoms were being caused by the psychological pressure I was putting myself under and the subsequent levels of physical stress I was creating by doing so. By making this connection and through the regular practice of mindfulness meditation I was able to recover without the use of medication. Science shows us that many painful conditions are triggered by stress in a similar way and that by working on the underlying cause’s recovery is also possible, often without the use of medication.
The search for answers
In my experience, people who suffer with chronic pain often feel frustrated and depressed as to why the pain has lasted so long. There is an understandable anxiety about the future and whether they will ever be fully mobile or active again. The resulting search for answers, often leads to many different scientific medical investigations including blood tests, x-rays and MRI scans. However, when these reports reveal no recognised physical medical condition the ensuing stress levels can compound existing depression, increase anxiety and lead to despair, especially when being bounced from one specialist to another, each determining from their particular area of expertise that no ‘physical’ problem exists. Despite being subjected to many different treatments, including manual therapists, injections, medication surgery and pain management, conditions don’t improve because all the while the focus has been on some part of the body being physically damaged.
Through developing knowledge gained from a Masters degree in Pain Science coupled with experience from my extensive client practice I explain how pain can be caused by adaptive changes in the brain and central nervous system and not just from tissue damage. These more subtle, though no less profound, changes cannot be detected using X-rays and MRI scans as they are neurophysiological in nature and not structural. Unknowingly, pain is often triggered, and reinforced by, emotional, cognitive and lifestyle factors. Through understanding this and working on the triggers it is often possible to reverse these adaptive changes.
Empowerment through SIRPA
I use a new approach known as the ‘stress illness recovery programme’, which is a type of emotional awareness and expression therapy (EAET). This approach aims to help people become more aware of the underlying emotional triggers that contribute to pain and to recognise how their thoughts reinforce existing pain. You will be empowered with self-help strategies that manage stress and change thought patterns, thereby having a positive influence on your pain. Using my knowledge of the nervous system I help people understand that pain doesn’t always mean damage and that it is okay to begin moving and being more physically active. As the adaptive changes that cause pain are reversible, my aim is to help people recover from long-term pain rather than just learning techniques to manage it on a day to day basis.
I also work alongside experienced Clinical Psychologists, who have worked in pain teams in the NHS and in private practice. They specialise in long term pain difficulties as well as abuse related trauma and other mental health conditions. They use a range of therapeutic models and techniques, tailoring therapy to meet someones individual needs. This means we can offer further psychological support when needed and joint assessments and treatments if appropriate. We find this multi-disciplinary approach to be extremely effective for many of the people we work with.