Welcome to the Bristol Pain Relief Centre.  My name is Matt Kinal and I’m a Specialist Pain Physiotherapist & SIRPA Practitioner specialising in 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 chronic pain in Bristol and the South West.

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.  After guiding you through a series of therapeutic sessions you will be empowered with self-help strategies that manage stress and change thought patterns, thereby having a positive influence on pain management with a corresponding overall reduction in 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.


Read more about the services we offer:

Chronic pain and the SIRPA programme


Your programme begins with an initial 90 minute assessment with an experienced Physiotherapist specialising in chronic pain. Prior to the assessment you will have already received a pre-assessment form, which asks various questions about the onset of the pain and what was going on in your life at the time the pain started. During the assessment a detailed history about the pain you are experiencing and any other conditions is taken, followed by a full physical assessment related to the condition. Following this, associations will be made and feedback given based upon your completed questionnaire to help you become aware of the links between emotional, cognitive and lifestyle factors and the pain you are experiencing from day to day.  At the end of the assessment an explanation about the cause of the pain is given, including the neurophysiological adaptions that can occur, so you have a good understanding of why the pain has continued for so long and also how to progress from here. Advice will then be given about the best techniques to help you move forward and begin to reduce your pain.

Following the initial assessment, treatment combines the latest neurophysiological education with therapeutic techniques recommended by the SIRPA approach. This approach is based on the work of Dr John Sarno, a pioneering doctor in the United States and author of ‘Healing back pain’ who has diagnosed people with ‘Tension Myositis Syndrome’ (TMS). Since then, a UK based physiotherapist, Georgie Oldfield, has developed and adapted the programme in the UK under the diagnosis of ‘stress illness’ (SIRPA).  In 2012 Matt Kinal trained with Georgie in the effective application of this approach and has since become an accredited SIRPA practitioner.

If you would like further information about this approach please visit the SIRPA website: http://www.sirpauk.com/


Although the service focuses on the underlying psychological factors that can reinforce pain, physiotherapy techniques such as manual therapy and exercise therapy may also be included in the treatment programme. This is usually decided once an initial assessment has been done.

Neuro physiotherapy

On occasions when someone also has a neurological conditions such as a stroke or brain injury as well as a chronic pain condition, we can also organise a neuro assessment, through our colleagues Bristol Neurophysio. Follow the link to their website: https://www.bristolneurophysio.co.uk/

If you would like further information you can contact us by phone: 07976 926347 or email Info@bristolpainreliefcentre.co.uk to book a free 30 minute telephone consultation.

Psychological treatment


At times it may be that following an initial assessment or after starting the SIRPA approach, further psychological input may be recommended. Our physiotherapists work closely with Clinical Psychologists who have extensive experience of working with adults with a range of mental and physical health difficulties. The Clinical Psychologists are registered with the Healthcare Professions Council. They have a particular interest in long-term conditions, chronic pain and stress-related illness and use a range of therapeutic models and techniques, so their therapy is tailored to the individual needs of our clients.

To find out what treatment approach is best for you please contact us via phone on: 07976 926347 or email: info@bristolpainreliefcentre.co.uk to book a free telephone consultation.



We run regular talks and courses on chronic pain for those suffering with chronic pain and also for healthcare professionals who work with people with chronic pain. These talks provide a useful insight into what happens in the brain and nervous system when chronic pain arises and how our emotions and cognitions are involved in this process.  These are also a great introduction to the SIRPA approach, a new type of therapy for chronic pain. More information about this approach can be found on the SIRPA website: http://www.sirpauk.com/

If you are suffering with chronic pain and are unsure whether this service is right for you, then coming to a talk is a great way to find out more about the service.

If you are a health professional and are interested in developing your understanding of, and treatment approaches to, chronic pain please have a look at the talks/courses below:


GP talk:  Lower back pain the latest evidence and a novel treatment approach
  • Matt will discuss the latest evidence on lower back pain, including the recent papers published in the Lancet.
  • He will explain how psycho-social factors influence pain and the physiological effects they have on the central nervous system, neuroendocrine system and the brain.
  • He will also present a novel treatment approach for chronic lower back pain, called the Stress Illness Recovery Programme (SIRPA). This will include case presentations.

Time and Date:  7pm, Wednesday October 17th 2018

Venue: Litfield House Medical Centre, 1 Litfield Place, Clifton Down, Bristol,  BS8 3LS

To book on to the talk please email Matt on: info@bristolpainreliefcentre.co.uk or call: 07976 926347

*Please note this is a free lecture, but is not part of Litfield House’s lecture programme, so please contact Matt directly if you wish to attend


What people have said about the talks:

“Matt’s talks are very thought provoking. He has an excellent understanding of the role of psychological factors in the development of chronic pain and nicely explains the physiological mechanisms. If you are new to working with people with chronic pain or an experienced clinician you will always get something out of the talks that will improve your practice.”

Dr Abby Tabor, Centre for Pain research, Bath University.

“I recently went to one of Matt Kinal’s presentations and I thought it was brilliant. It has improved my understanding of pain which I find helpful when working with neurological patients. I especially liked some of the studies, I thought they were a great eye opener and challenged some of the myths around pain. I feel that it’s important for healthcare professionals to gain a better understanding of pain to improve the quality of holistic care.”

Ulrike Barth, Occupational Therapist in Neurology

‘I heard Matt speak in 2012 and he could have been describing me!  I had had chronic pain -back, feet, shoulder, hip for 16 years since arriving in the UK. I became hooked on the SIRPA approach. It has changed my personal and professional life beyond recognition for the better’

Dr Lynn Thompson, NHS GP