What to do in case of sudden back pain?
Interview with the “Deutsche Schmerzliga” (German Pain League)


This excerpt from an interview by HR I with Dr. Gerhard Müller-Schwefe, President of the “Deutsche Schmerzgesellschaft” on the occasion of the “German Pain Day Frankfurt on March 15, 2003 is still extremely topical.

HR: If someone with chronic back pain comes to you today on pain day, what can you offer that?

M-S: On Pain Day, of course, he experiences a variety of therapy strategies that we use for chronic back pain. And there is a very important message that is: “not peace brings healing, but movement”.

HR: That means…walking a lot?

M-S: Back pain patients must be active, must be able to move, they must be able to walk. But not only walking, but they have to choose the form of movement that they like to do. It has to be fun, because then you move. And if that’s not possible because the pain is too much, then we need the medication!

HR: But this movement is supposed to happen under guidance or can everyone do it on their own?

M-S: Primarily, everyone can move on their own, but if you have back pain, then there are very specific ways to move. And for that you need the experts, because there are real exercises and there are also exercises that can make it worse.
This should be targeted very specifically at the individual. This requires a careful examination, not the x-ray, but the physical examination. This requires the patient to undress. You can’t tell by the clothes. To do this, the function of the muscles, ligaments and joints must also be examined.

HR: Now pain is not only back pain, but also headache, rheumatic pain. There are many different forms. Why is there so little targeted pain therapy in Germany?

M-S: In Germany, as in many other countries, it has not yet been understood that chronic pain is based on bravery strategies. Whenever you’re brave, you endure pain and then you learn. This information is repeated. And all learning and becoming chronic means learning, based on repeated information.
That is why so much pain is chronic and German doctors are not prepared to recognize and prevent this chronification, these learning processes.

HR: Now they say it’s bravery pain that you just put up with and then it becomes chronic. But now, on the other hand, people with pain problems are sometimes a little dismissed and then it is said that they may be psychosomatic complaints, perhaps this person has some problems, perhaps it is even just imagination. Now you give these people courage. They’re not hypochondriacs!?

M-S: Absolutely not. If someone has pain, then of course he is not cheerful either, but becomes depressed, but becomes depressed because he has pain. And I would vehemently resist defaming pain patients simply as mentally ill or as imaginary patients. Unfortunately, this happens on a daily basis, in the expertise system, which happens when these people cannot show any findings on the x-ray. But we know where it actually happens, namely in the nerve cells, there are structures that we simply cannot capture with the X-ray image.

HR: Where should someone with pain problems turn best now? Even if he feels he’s not in such good hands with the family doctor?

M-S: A good address is the “Deutsche Schmerzliga”. They provide addresses of pain therapists who live in the vicinity of the affected person. Method specialists, but also highly specialized pain therapists, for the severe problem patients.

Addendum by bios affair: The “German pain league” assumes that “pain is not a fateful, unavoidable burden that patients have to bear”, it insists on the “right to competent treatment” and is “committed to the interests of people suffering from chronic pain”.

You can find the “German Pain League” on the Internet at: www.schmerzliga.de/

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