1 in 5 Australians suffer chronic pain, defined as persisting pain after an injury or illness. Whilst acute pain is helpful (helps us survive & evolve), chronic pain is now recognised as a disease in itself. It’s important understand and characterise the chronic pain by proper medical diagnosis and a pain diary, and consider the bio-psycho-social factors that cause it. Chronic pain can interfere with sleep, activity, our ability to work or function at home, our quality of life, social interaction, our finances and overall well-being. Therefore it’s important we consider all aspects of pain, including the strong link with mental health – up to 85% of pain clinic patients have anxiety or depression.
To manage chronic pain, consider the following:
- Increase education – shown to improve control. Join a support group or undertake a pain management program. Call the Pain Link helpful on 1300 340 357
- Work with your GP to develop a pain medication regime, involving background drugs such as paracetamol as well as breakthrough agents for flare-ups
- Exercise as much as you can – helps with distraction, reduces sensitivity to pain and improves mental health
- See a psychologist, given the important of dealing with emotional responses to pain – building effective coping strategies is key
- Be open to changing your lifestyle and trying different methods of managing pain – a negative outlook begets helplessness and more pain
- Manage your energy levels and pace activities – have frequent rest periods, avoid pain spikes
- Practice mindfulness, meditation, relaxation, yoga, hypnosis and laughter
- Use diversions – friends, families, movies, music, massage
- Aim for acceptance, goal setting, realistic expectations and a positive attitude
- Whatever is prescribed, persist and comply with treatment – only 10% of pain clinic patients last through their program and of those that do, 80% achieve improvements
- Talk to your GP about medications including paracetamol, anti-inflammatories, opioids, anti-epileptic drugs, anti-depressants, joint injections and TENS machines (electro-stimulation)
If you suffer chronic pain, you’re not alone – please reach out for help and talk to the Osana team for support.