Dr Deepak Ravindran has 20 years of experience in helping people overcome their pain – in the NHS and in private practice. He is a leading NHS consultant in pain, anaesthesia, musculoskeletal and lifestyle medicine at the Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust and the lead for the Berkshire Longcovid Integrated Service (BLIS) in Reading, UK. In an exclusive chat with Asian Voice, he spoke about his book, The Pain Free Mindset and more.
Is it fair to compare physical pain?
Each person's pain is unique. When someone experiences an injury, the body releases chemicals which are collectively called nociception. These chemical signals are then interpreted by each person according to their context and past events to create the perception of pain so each person's physical pain is different.
What are the common mistakes people make by popping pain killers?
First of all there are no pain “killers”. None of the present medication in market actually kill pain. They all act on different parts of the nervous system and the body to dampen some signals. If there are a lot of chemical signals (nociception) then drugs are more effective, if there isn’t then drugs won't work. So people should first understand what is responsible for their pain experience before popping medications.
Please tell us about your book. Why should our readers grab a copy?
My book The Pain Free Mindset is for the general public and written in an easy to read/understand manner. The idea that pain can be seen on a scan and is always treatable by conventional (drugs/surgery) means is unfortunately not correct.
Medications and injections/surgery work in 20-30% of patients only. During the pandemic, people have been overly cautious to visit hospitals or receive necessary surgery, resulting in many exploring alternative options. This book will give them all the latest information about the advances in pain science and help them understand the causes of pain and will help them draw a plan to overcome their pain and know when to approach their GP/Specialist for help.
What is your advice to families who have members who constantly suffer from pain, which can be irritating for others, but not for the patient? What is the right approach to deal with someone in pain?
Pain is fundamentally a protective sensation. It is not always the sign of something wrong like we have been taught. So when someone is in pain, the causes can be biological or social or even psychological. The right approach is to address each and all of these factors. What we end up doing is doing one of the three and then get frustrated when it does not change. So we need to ask, what needs to be protected?
What do you think is the biggest cause of pain in millennials?
Excessive stress and lifestyle related factors of processed foods /less physical activity with disturbed sleep cycles and lack of understanding the complexity of pain and what they can do.
As a doctor, how do you deal with pain when you yourself are working in the frontline saving the lives of others? Do you have the right help and empathy around you?
I work with a team of professionals who all work in a trauma informed manner which means that we realise that every one of our pain patients might have had traumatic (physical/emotional) episodes. We therefore respond in a very different manner in our communications to prevent them from being traumatised again in our care. We provide a compassionate patient centred care. In addition to offering medications (M) or injections (I) for their pain if needed, we also look at their nervous system (N) and stress/ their diet (D)/sleep(S)/physical activity/exercise (E) and other mind body therapies (T) to create a personalised plan to help them overcome their pain – The Pain Free MINDSET.