CHRONIC PAIN TREATMENT IN AUSTRALIA

CHRONIC PAIN IS COMMON

In 2007, around 3.1 million Australians (1.4 million males and 1.7 million females) were estimated to experience chronic pain and these figures do not include children and adolescents.

A few facts about chronic pain include:

  • Women are more likely to experience chronic pain than men.
  • Chronic pain is generally more common with increasing age. However, younger adults were proportionately most likely to report interference with daily activities caused by their pain.
  • Paediatric patients also represent an important group with poorly managed acute, chronic and cancer pain.
  • The prevalence of pain in patients at all stages of cancer is 53 per cent. Of those, one third graded their pain as moderate or severe. In cancer survivors after curative treatment, 13 to 60 per cent experience ongoing pain.

Common causes of chronic pain include:

  • Low Back Pain
  • Neuropathic Pain
  • Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) - sometimes it’s incorrectly referred to as Chronic Regional Pain Syndrome 
  • Cancer Pain
  • Phantom Pain
  • Headaches and migraines
  • Pain after shingles, also called Post Herpetic Neuralgia

The last few years have brought huge advances in the management of chronic pain. Chronic Pain Australia have helped to support good pain management and have lobbied for better funded services from the government.

Excellent chronic pain management involves a holistic approach of appropriate medications and interventions as well as psychology and physiotherapy to help cope and manage with this long term condition.

MEDICATIONS

Used appropriately, medications reduce the severity of pain, help coping and managing your pain.

INTERVENTIONS

Well chosen pain interventions can radically change the severity of pain. These range from injections to block pain into spinal joints or nerves or trigger points all the way to complex and advanced techniques like spinal cord stimulation. As always, these need to be considered as part of a multimodal pain strategy.

PHYSIOTHERAPY

This teaches how to move and maintain fitness and strength. This complements the medications and increases function. There are also specialised techniques to help the brain relearn how to deal with pain and reverse the pain sensitivity.

PSYCHOLOGY

Learn ways of coping with long term pain and beating pain flare ups.

YOUR PAIN SPECIALISTS

A pain specialist will guide you thorough these choices and help select the treatment or treatments that work best for you.

A FANTASTIC RESOURCE

A fantastically useful resource is the Pain Management Network developed by the NSW Health Agency for Clinical Innovation

 

Written by Dr. Simon Cohen.