Pain management advice

5 things you can do to manage your pain before you see your specialist

Chronic pain affects 1 in 5 Australians, 1 in 3 over the age of 65 and can be challenging to treat. However all patients can optimise their chronic pain management in 5 steps and should review these before they seek specialist help. I have chosen the following suggestions after many years of helping patients with their chronic pain management and observing the barriers many patients have to effective pain management.

I believe that the better informed a patient is about chronic pain and its management the more I can help them or they may not need my expert help.

In 5 steps we are going to put together the building blocks of any effective and long term pain management plan.

Step one. Discuss the diagnosis of chronic pain and a management plan with your GP who will be the central figure in your management. Although this might be daunting your GP will have many patients in their practice with chronic pain and will be helping them.

Step two. Set realistic expectations and goals to work on. As chronic pain is a chronic condition and can’t be fixed or cured like many other medical conditions such as diabetes setting realistic goals that are achievable is important. These may include performing different types of physical activities, pacing your activities better or reframing your concerns. Focus on what you can do and less so on what you can’t.

Step three. Physical activity is an important component of managing your chronic pain of any type. You’ve heard the expression “use it or lose it” ? Well the same is true with chronic pain because the more deconditioned one becomes the pain may become worse. So see your physical therapist who can prescribe exercises that you will do every day and if these are not right for you try others.

Step four. If required take your medication for pain as prescribed by your GP including antidepressants if prescribed. Although medication is rarely the only way to treat chronic pain and will not likely eliminate pain they can be helpful if taken regularly.

Step five. There are excellent free web based resources put together by my Australian pain management colleagues including video modules to educate patients about better pain management. This information is free, based on best contemporary medical evidence, is intended to work with your primary care provider, is free of  commercial bias and world class. I recommend you view them on your own or with family and carers, discuss them with your GP. The links are included at the end.

So now, in 5 minutes, we have the discussed the building blocks of your pain management plan its your turn to do your homework. Of course we’re here to help with further expertise but who knows, now, you may not find that necessary.   

Helpful links: https://www.aci.health.nsw.gov.au/chronic-pain