Photo of Ade with his bike

Why Am I Doing This Challenge?

The main reason for doing the 21 Days of Pain challenge is to raise awareness of chronic pain. It's also to demonstrate to fellow chronic pain sufferers that doing an activity or sport that you love, especially one which significantly distracts you from your pain and has an immersive effect, can help manage pain. As long as your activity doesn't cause damage or more pain, then it is quite likely that it will help ease pain.

The Back-Story?

A few years ago I suffered a spinal injury. Fast-forward to 2018 and I have had surgery on my spine four times to repair a badly damaged intervertebral disc. The disc has now been almost completely removed. However I now have nerve damage from repeated entrapment by the damaged disc. This, coupled with other soft-tissue damage and scar tissue from the surgery, cause constant and severe pain. As a result I will live with constant leg and back pain for the rest of my life. I also have weakness and restricted movement in my left leg which, along with the pain walking causes, makes getting around very difficult. Because of this I have had to make some major changes to my life.

How Does Pain Affect My Life?

The pain that I live with is intensified by the accumulative effect of sitting, standing, walking and bending down. If I do too much of these things my pain becomes much, much worse. Therefore I have had to make some fairly major changes to my life. I can no longer work and I have had to give up quite a few hobbies, such as mountain biking and rock climbing. Life has now become much more sedate. Even housework has do be done in small chunks, with time spent lying down in between in order to prevent pain levels from flaring up (temporarily getting worse).

Doesn't Cycling Make It Worse?

I have found that cycling is one of, if not the most valuable tool that I have to help alleviate the pain that I live with. I have cycled all my life, but after my back injury, I thought I'd never ride again. Most people assume cycling makes the pain worse, but in fact it's the other way round. I have found that the mixture of chemicals produced by my brain, the gentle movement of pedalling and the distraction of the scenery and other road users, helps ease the pain. When I'm on the bike I am almost pain-free. When I manage to find time to spend all day cycling the pain relief can last for a whole day afterwards. That's why I ride as much as I can and how this challenge was born.

If I can show others that there are alternatives to medication to help with pain management and raise awareness of how debilitating pain can be, as well as ride my bike, then that's a huge bonus! Of course, while I'm at it, I also would like to raise some money for the charity Pain Concern.

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