“I had been suffering with lower back pain since the age of four and it particularly worsened in my early twenties, when I also developed neck and shoulder pain. An MRI scan showed that the bottom two discs in my lower back were degenerative and prolapsed and I also had some facet joint degeneration. I was living with daily pain that was restricting my activity and stopping me doing simple things like gardening and cleaning.
I had tried chiropractic treatment, been through the back in action programme, tried Pilates and had an epidural steroid injection, but this didn’t help. I was taking Nortriptyline, Gabapentin and Paracetamol on a daily basis for the pain. After seeing my GP she advised me to contact the Bristol Pain Relief Centre. I spoke to Matt on the phone and explained my symptoms and he thought he could help and we agreed to do a SIRPA assessment. The assessment form was very detailed and covered lots of aspects of my life. Matt explained how certain experiences I’d had throughout my life could have triggered the pain and by the end of the appointment I was beginning to think about my pain in a different way. He gave me some techniques to try out to help reduce anxiety and to begin to try out movements I hadn’t done for a long time.
Over the next three months I began to understand the underlying causes of my pain. I worked out that an accident on a bouncy castle when I was four had triggered me to be overprotective of my back. I also worked out that an attack at University and the subsequent behaviours associated with this had enhanced the pain and made me even more protective of my back. I understood how my emotions and cognitions were maintaining the pain rather than letting it switch off.
Initially, my pain didn’t settle then after a few months as I began to understand what was going on, it gradually improved. I also began to feel less anxious and was able to come off all my pain medications. Following a life time of pain I now only get pain occasionally and it usually settles quickly. I’m very pleased that I went through the SIRPA approach as it has changed my life!”
Kay, Bristol (Chronic lower back and neck pain)
“I first began to see Matt after almost 6 years of chronic pain. I had been suffering with joint and back pain and was taking a number of high level medications (morphine, gabapentin, opiate patches, etc). I had 3 cortisone injections in my spine and was finally referred to the Pain Clinic and told there was nothing more they could do except ‘manage it’. I was devastated but refused to accept that this was going to be my life – a very limited life of bed rest and high level pain, being physically immobile for periods and dependant on those around me. I found Matt after researching the link between pain and emotions via the SIRPA website and immediately booked an appointment. Within a month I was free of medication, except the occasion low level painkiller and within 6 months Matt was able to sign me off. The difference has been immense, I have a life back. The pain levels are much, much lower, I no longer spend the majority of time resting and I am mobile again. I am currently retraining to be a Psychotherapist and as part of that I am hoping to train with SIRPA myself, such is the difference it has made in my life. I cannot thank Matt enough and would recommend himself and the SIRPA approach to anybody.”
Samantha, Bristol (Lower back pain)
“The Sirpa approach really helped me to understand that the pain and discomfort I was experiencing was largely down to my thought processes. Once I stopped fearing that activities would cause symptoms, I was able to get back to sport without pain. I have also used a similar approach with some of my own patients.”
John, local GP (recurrent shin pain)
“After years and years of medical tests that couldn’t find anything wrong, Tania and Matt have helped me to understand the root cause of my chronic pelvic pain. I now understand better the link between mental stresses and physical stresses, and have learned new ways of managing my life. I now know how important it is to manage the way I think, particularly about my pain, and not let it run my life any longer.”
Shaun, Bristol (Chronic Pelvic pain)
“After repeated unsuccessful facet joint injections for my chronic back pain, the SIRPA approach helped me to come off all my pain medication, to attend the gym regularly again and even to take up dancing. It has saved me from having to give up work. It has been life changing!”
Stephanie (Lower back pain)
“I came across SIRPA after having read Dr John Sarno’s book “Healing back pain”. At the time I was suffering from buttock and leg pain on, which was stopping me from sitting down on anything but hard chairs, keeping me awake and preventing me from doing two things I love, running and gardening. I was never relaxed, I couldn’t, it hurt too much! I’d been through treatments with 5 or 6 practitioners (osteopath, physios, shiatsu, etc.) but nothing provided relief for more than a few days. An MRI scan a few months before, showed disk degeneration and doctors had told me that this was causing my pain and maybe it would go away on its own, otherwise all I could do was manage the pain. Somehow, this didn’t seem quite right!
The book resonated with me and this was my first insight into the fact that my pain could be related to emotional and mental stuff, rather than purely structural.
Having located Matt through speaking to Georgie Oldfield (founder of SIRPA) on the phone, I saw him a few days later and immediately felt at ease. Filling in a pre-consultation questionnaire helped me to start piecing together how the way I was thinking was causing me real physical pain. After giving me the all clear physically, Matt helped me to realise that I had conditioned my body into expecting pain when I did certain movements. Through looking at the way I thought about things and dealt with situations and changing those thoughts myself, I was soon able to run and garden again, relax in chairs and bed.
I found the process very accessible and Matt very approachable in helping me through it, encouraging but not intruding.
I have been pain free for some time now, but the benefits are ongoing. The “life skills” that the SIRPA approach has taught me have enabled me to become stronger physically and mentally, as well as happier and more empowered.
Thanks Matt and thanks SIRPA.”
Vicky Stone, Bath (Chronic lower back pain)
“For the past 15 years I have suffered from foot pain, then hip pain then knee pain and then chronic back pain(sciatica). At times I thought I had low vitamin D, Fibromyalgia , menopausal aches and pains etc. I saw orthotists, physiotherapists, chiropracters, osteopaths, acupuncturists, Alexander technique, Core Strength Course. I also had intermittent shoulder pain , first the left then the right, and hand and foot pain.
I felt better after a massage and better after my Body Balance class (a mixture of yoga, Tai Chi , Pilates and relaxation)
In November I heard Matt Kinal give a talk on stress illness with Georgie Oldfield.
Lightbulb moment! This was me!
I read Healing Back Pain by Dr John Sarno and started to work on my stress issues. I had a session with Georgie Oldfield. I attended matt’s monthly talks.
I started doing yoga (www.yogabristol.co.uk) and made adjustments to my work schedule to reduce stress. I became more interested in this work and have read widely on it. I am interested in how stress affects not just musculoskeletal pain but eczema, chest pain, IBS, Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome etc
I can highly recommend the programme that Bristol Pain Relief Centre are offering and would urge you to contact them for an assessment.
It will be life changing!”