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Should you first cure your ignorance, healthcare professionals?
  1. Chiara Gusmini
  1. Italian Patient, Presezzo 24030, Italy
  1. Correspondence to Chiara Gusmini, Italian Patient, Presezzo 24030, Italy; chiara{at}

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My background

I am a 38-year-old woman and I have lived for 25 years with chronic pain. I’ve never hidden it from anybody—I sought help everywhere, but no-one was able to help me to identify the nature of my condition. I learnt strategies to manage my pain by myself until I got unexpectedly introduced to the current best evidence-based management for my condition, which changed my life significantly.

How my persistent pain started

My story started when I was 12 years old, when I was pushed to the ground outside school and fell on my back. I believe that that fall was the beginning of my persistent pain. Over the following years, persistent spinal pain was diagnosed as 'growth pains'. When I approached my twenties, my pain was widespread. I suffered from widespread pain in my head, neck, back, arms, legs and bowel, as well as insomnia. My pains were not visible on X-rays, MRI scans, or detectable by blood tests, and I was the only one who could perceive them. Doctors and healthcare professionals concluded that my pains were in my mind.

Initial treatments and diagnoses

The medicines I was prescribed did not work and, obviously, this situation made me rather anxious. Anxiety then became a problem and I felt I was being blamed for all my aches and pains. I was not improving with any of the treatments attempted (massage, manipulations, laser therapy, …

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