Forgive my bossiness but this post comes from a desperate experience that I lived for 4.5 years. That’s a long time for someone with increasing chronic pain levels and not much hope. I felt isolated and alone in a very foreign world without appropriate treatment, compassion and understanding.

Nine years later, I’m hopeful a situation like mine can be prevented with the knowledge provided in the following resources. Pain Specialists Australia are leaders in pain treatment and management, I can certainly vouch for that!

Please read the resources, learn them, share them… and if you require information on chronic pain, follow Pain Specialists Australia.

(Published by Dr. Nick Christelis Director & Consultant – Pain Specialists Australia, Pain Specialist & Anaesthetist – Epworth, Alfred, Cabrini)

10 practical tips for GPs managing chronic pain

We are all aware that chronic pain is common. They trick is to be aware of this and to have a plan of action.

One in five Australians will suffer from chronic pain in their lifetime. This does not include the minor aches and sprains of life; what we’re talking about persistent/chronic pain, with its significant and long-term negative health consequences.

If you consider the prevalence of diabetes, which is 5% of the population, chronic pain, which is at 20%, is setting itself to be a key driver of suffering and disability now and in the future.

Even more worrying is that 80% of chronic pain suffers will miss out on effective treatment that could improve their health and quality of life. This number says it all: we need to do more for our pain patients.

1. Diagnose chronic pain early

Pain can be considered chronic when the pain persists for more than one month following anticipated tissue healing or if any pain continues for longer than three months.

Chronic pain is usually triggered by an acute injury, disease or process that the body has long since recovered from. Be aware of common causes of chronic pain. Some of these initial triggers can include surgeries like spinal surgery, thoracotomy, mastectomy and herniorraphy, trauma, shingles, a minor back or spine injury, a joint problem, and even arthritis. In fact, anything that can affect nerves detrimentally can cause chronic neuronal changes and dysfunction, which can then lead to persistent sensory changes and chronic pain.

The knock-on effects of chronic pain are multiple and can affect all aspects of physical and mental health.

Put yourself in a chronic pain suffers shoes for a minute.

Movement triggers pain, and people with chronic pain think that they will damage something when they move (this is a maladaptive thought), then they end up resting excessively (this is a maladaptive behavior). These maladaptive thoughts, which lead to maladaptive behaviours, can in turn, lead to deconditioning and all its dangerous consequences.

It might sound like this: “My movements hurts and will make it worse, so I must avoid those movements and rest!”

There are many maladaptive thoughts and behaviours. Another maladaptive behavior might be: “I need to take medications, which are the only way to make me feel better”, this in turn re-inforces a poor coping strategy called ‘chemical coping’, where the only way of coping is to take medications.

2. Evaluate the flags and perform psychological screening

flag-systemChronic pain can happen to anyone, including you and me. It’s when the chronic pain is not diagnosed early and not managed effectively in an allied health setting that the pain can have knock on effects.

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Chronic pain is on the increase

With one in five Australians expected to suffer from chronic pain in their lifetime, it’s never been more critical for general practitioners to understand both how chronic pain presents, but how to treat it effectively.

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More about Pain Specialists Australia

“We had taken the first step in setting up our pain relief clinic. Our aim was simple: Excellence in Personalised Pain Management. The care we provide would be holistic, multidisciplinary and complete but it would also include cutting edge pain interventional technology, drawing from our extensive experience as anaesthetists and understanding of the spinal and related structures.”

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