People who live with chronic pain can feel alone, isolated, misunderstood and stigmatised. If this is you or a loved one, there are places where you can find help and support, and there are things you can do to improve your quality of life. Although in many cases there is no cure for chronic pain, appropriate management can lead to better health outcomes. There are also actions you can take to make your voice heard, and create a better future for Australians who live with chronic pain.
Find a Supportive GP
In collaboration with you, your GP can develop a care plan which may involve other health professionals such as a physiotherapist or clinical psychologist. A care plan for a chronic medical condition, which provides access to five allied health consultations, is available under Medicare. The GP may also recommend consulting a specialist. To help you talk to your GP about pain, use the NPS MedcineWise chronic pain communication tool.
Access Multidisciplinary Care
Chronic pain is best managed with a multidisciplinary approach that addresses the physical, psychological and environmental or social factors that influence your pain, with several primary health care professionals working with you as a team. Although it may include medical interventions and medication, it is based on non-invasive and non-medicine treatments. Your GP can facilitate a multidisciplinary approach as part of your care plan.
Locate a Multidisciplinary Pain Clinic
If your pain cannot be appropriately managed by a primary health care team or specialist it may be helpful to attend a specialist pain clinic or service, which offers a multidisciplinary pain management program. Note there may be long waiting times at clinics in public hospitals. Private pain clinics have shorter wait times. If you would like to attend a pain clinic, you will need a referral from your GP.
- A guide to understanding new cannabis regulations was prepared for Painaustralia by Cannabis Consulting Australia Pty Ltd www.cannabisconsultingaustralia.com.au.
- Faculty of Pain Medicine Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists Statement on "Medicinal Cannabis" with particular reference to its use in the management of patients with chronic non-cancer pain.
- RACGP Position Statement on Medicinal use of cannabis products
Learn How to Communicate Effectively with Health Professionals
NPS MedicineWise has resources to assist consumers to talk about their chronic pain with their health professional and to facilitate active self management. Tools include:
Join a Support Group or Online Community
By joining a support group, you can connect with other people who understand, and find hope and encouragement.
- Australian Pain Management Association Support Groups are for people living with pain and family members. Find an APMA Support Group near you.
- Chronic Pain Australia runs a forum on its website, an online community where people can feel supported and empowered. It is moderated by people who live with chronic pain. Visit the CPA forum.
- Beyond Blue runs an online forum for people with trauma and chronic physical illness.
Learn More About Chronic Pain and How to Manage It
- ACI Pain Management Network helps you learn more about chronic pain, and offers information to help you manage your pain in partnership with your health providers. The site is produced by NSW Health.
- painHealth offers information, tips, resources and self-management tools for people with musculoskeletal pain. This site is produced by WA Health.
- Learn more about pelvic pain at the Pelvic Pain Foundation of Australia website. It includes a list of specialists and pelvic pain clinics located in Australia. You can also find support and links to resources at www.pudendalnerve.com.au
- LPNtoBSNonline.org has a list of useful resources and organisations around the world, related to chronic pain.
Help for Veterans
Veterans' Medicines Advice and Therapeutics Education Services (Veterans' MATES) was developed by the Department of Veterans' Affairs to assist in managing medicine use in the veteran community. They have released the following fact sheets:
- Chronic Musculoskeletal Pain: Helping to solve the pain puzzle
- Therapeutic Brief: Changing Musculoskeletal Pain - Changing the way we think about pain
Help for Parents of Children with Chronic Pain
- SKIP offers support for children with chronic pain, parents and families.
- Joint Pain Relief is an independent parent-to-parent website for parents of children and young adults who have a rheumatology condition or other chronic pain condition.
Help for Workplaces
- Happy Body At Work is an eight-week evidence-based program for sedentary workplaces that focuses on improving four key lifestyle habits – sitting, moving, stress and sleep – to create behavioural change.
- Mind Coaching Australia helps organisations (and individuals) develop mental strength and emotional resilience.
Register Adverse Medicine Events
The Adverse Medicine Events (AME) Line is staffed by registered pharmacists and provides information related to prescription, over-the-counter or complementary medicines. If you have any concerns about reactions, side effects or medicine interactions call the AME Line.
AME LINE: 1300 134 237 Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm
If you are suffering from pain and need help or support, please contact:
Pain Link Helpline: 1300 340 357
You can also ask your GP to refer you to the nearest pain clinic.
If you are depressed and need someone to talk to immediately, call:
Lifeline 24-hour Telephone Crisis Support: 13 11 14