Niki Jones has spent more than 18 years on high-strength medication after being diagnosed with chronic pain at the age of 31. The 49-year-old, from
Niki Jones has spent more than 18 years on high-strength medication after being diagnosed with chronic pain at the age of 31. The 49-year-old, from Brecon, south Wales, endured operations and endless rounds of successively stronger medication – only to see her pain increase.
All this left her unable to work and at one point she could only walk short distances with the help of a stick.
Ms Jones’ condition began to improve in 2019 when she reduced her medication and became more active, as well as taking up mindfulness.
Sadly all the medication has left her “dependent” on high-strength synthetic opioid fentanyl, she said.
Every time doctors have tried to wean her off the drug her mental health has rapidly deteriorated, she explained.
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In a report, it said that there was “little or no evidence” painkillers made any difference to quality of life, pain or psychological distress.
Despite her worsening condition, Ms Jones said it was only in 2019 that someone suggested exploring other treatments.
She later took up ballet and began exercising, socialising and meditating.
This led to her pain reducing “dramatically” in just three months, she said.
Accepting that her pain would not simply disappear and that she would have to learn to live with it was key to her recovery, she added.
Pain expert Professor Cormac Ryan said many “misconceptions” persist about how to treat the condition – which affects up to an estimated 50 percent of the population.
The academic, who works with public health campaign group Flippin’ Pain, said that “common public understanding is significantly out of step with current scientific thinking”.
He added: “Millions of people are suffering, but is our understanding of what to do about it all wrong?
“So we desperately want people to take action and put their health firmly in their own hands.
“How people think about their pain can change the way it feels and how they respond to it.
“A better understanding of pain can reduce associated fear and anxiety, empower people to make more informed lifestyle and healthcare decisions and lead to increased activity levels and better quality of life.”