Second chance at life beyond pain: A Langwarrin mother moves freely again

Terryn Huggard is living pain free thanks to the work of occupational therapist Tessa Heine and the Persistent Pain Management Service. Photo taken before mandatory outdoor mask wearing requirements. Photo: Supplied.

After living with persistent pain right throughout her childhood, Terryn Huggard is moving freely again thanks to Peninsula Health.

The Langwarrin mother of two first started feeling discomfort on the right side of her body when she was just 12 years old, with pain randomly flaring up in her jaw, neck, shoulder and hip.  

“It didn’t matter who I turned to, countless professionals told me my pain was from previous injuries and I just had to deal with it,” says Terryn.

“I could not get any answers – the suggestion always was to take some pain medication or just stop thinking about it.”

Pain regularly stopped Terryn from doing the things she enjoyed in her 20s. Walking the dog, driving a car for more than 20 minutes and giving a child a hug would induce debilitating pain.

“Ongoing body pain stopped me from doing many everyday tasks to my full ability and drastically reduced my enjoyment of life in general,” says Terryn.

“I’m only 33! These are things that I want to do. Things my body should allow me to do.”

“The fear of my pain worsening would stop me from moving my body in the way it is meant to, even walking around the block or the suggestion of a family bike ride would cause me worry of how my body would feel afterwards.”

Terryn is sharing her recovery journey for National Pain Week. This year’s theme is Connection, reminding friends, family and professionals that connection is key to addressing the social isolation that pain can create. 

One in five Australians are suffering from chronic pain or pain lasting longer than three months and can be associated with chronic disease or injury like arthritis, or ongoing infection post-injury.

“Ever since I was referred to Peninsula Health my progress has been outstanding,” says Terryn.

“The Persistent Pain Management team has opened my eyes to how my nervous system produces pain as a protective response to a perceived threat, using science and data alongside genuine care and compassion to teach me how to better manage what my body is dealing with.”

“I have been able to tailor my very own way of reducing my body’s need to respond with pain.”

Persistent Pain Management Service Coordinator and Senior Occupational Therapist Tessa Heine says persistent pain is very complex, with many factors impacting its development.

“This can be pain related to conditions such as arthritis, diabetes or fibromyalgia, pain continuing after an injury has healed, it may begin at a time of particular emotional challenge, or can occur where the cause is not known,” says Tessa.

“Terryn attended our service with an open mind and was willing to consider a different explanation for her pain than she had previously been told.”

“Learning about strategies to change the pain experience is not enough, it takes repeated effort to create new pathways in the brain and Terryn challenged her automatic thoughts, movements and responses to pain. She did the work and got the results, and we are so pleased to see that she has continued to improve after completing her work with us.”

Terryn says she’s now enjoying a life she never imagined would be possible.

“Throughout my life it has ripped me away from my hobbies and things that defined me. I used to play competitive netball in my teens and loved the power my body gave to the game,” says Terryn.

“Netball took a seat way down the back for 14 years for fear it would cause my pain to flare up, and that I was at high risk of injuring myself. Now I’m back on the court, sometimes playing 2 games a week.”

Peninsula Health’s Persistent Pain Management Service operates out of The Mornington Centre and specialises in teaching active self-management techniques.

To learn more about how you can access the service please call Peninsula Health ACCESS on 1300 665 781 or view the website for more information 

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