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The High Cost of Pain

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Your Stories

Maria: Stress-induced migraine


I've suffered migraine for about 12 years. Originally I would have a migraine

almost every day, so now I consider myself lucky to get just two a week.



Marie: Cycling accidents

marieI had two major cycling accidents in the 1980s which caused a spinal fracture and severe whiplash.I quickly got over the accidents and was fine until the early 1990s when I started to have migraines. This gradually progressed to daily migraines by 1996.


Elisabeth: Herniated disc


For the past four years I've been struggling to cope with a herniated disc condition,

which has not improved much, despite me taking positive action and trying to manage it. The condition gives me severe back pain, which I feel almost every day and every night.



Wanda: Back injury at work

wandaI first incurred a serious back injury at work in 1985. It was not able to be evidence-based for five years (at the time of surgery).


Olivia: Endometriosis


I've suffered bad period pain since I was 15, but it wasn't until my late 20s when

I was diagnosed with endometriosis.



Karen: Chronic Widespread Pain Syndrome

Karen 1 croppedMy life was turned upside down in 2011, when I was diagnosed with Chronic Widespread Pain Syndrome (CWPS), a complex, poorly understood and difficult to treat chronic pain condition. Suffice to say it is a lifelong condition characterised by general pain, and I was already living with other painful conditions including bursitis (joint inflammation) and osteoarthritis.


Deb: Reaching under a bed

debI woke up one morning in 1988 with a sore back.As the pain continued to increase, I consulted my general practitioner who referred me to an orthopedic surgeon. After some tests, I was told that there were no problems and that the pain should go away. It didn't.


Eliza*: Right diagnosis

neural image web

Prior to becoming a chronic pain sufferer, that is, someone who experiences daily pain for three months or more, I had led a busy life. Post pain, it has been devastating to have to adjust to a vastly different life.



Jacqueline: Hip Pain

Jacqueline Emmett

One day in Year 8 I was playing with some classmates when I hurt my hip. Stuck on the ground and unable to get up, I was taken to hospital by ambulance, but doctors couldn't find anything wrong with me.



Charmian: Pacing

My pain journey began in 198Charmian6 when I was 17. Unrelated to any incident, I began to experience extreme back pain. I later discovered it was a degenerative disease with no cure, but at the time I thought it could just be 'fixed'.



Symantha: Chronic migraines

samAs a chronic migraine sufferer I've lived with pain since I was a small child. With the help of sub-occipital electrodes and an implanted pulse generator (IPG implant) I can now manage my daily pain and rely less on heavy medications.


Aileen: Hurt lifting files

aileenMy injury happened over two days – August 30-31, 2001 – when I was asked to reorganise the office's new filing system.


Renée: Car accident

reneeIn 1962 at the age of 21, Renée was involved in a serious car accident that kept her in an English hospital - in a 40-bed geriatric ward - for nearly two years.


Kelli: Autoimmune Disease

neural image webWhen I was 25, I was living life to the full. Then, literally overnight, I became ill. It was 15 April 1998, a date I will never forget, when I woke up in severe pain.  I had to crawl on my elbows and knees to go to the bathroom. I had pain in all my joints – it even hurt to breathe.



Jill: Breast cancer pain

jillBreast cancer is a diagnosis heard all too often these days at 13,000 diagnoses a year in Australia.


Gabrielle*: Chronic migraine

neural image web

I suffer from chronic severe migraine. It started 20 years ago and became a daily

occurrence in 1996, from the time I had two cycling accidents.



Peter: Accident at work

PeterPanandfamilyIt happened on 28 August 2008 at 8.28am. Everything after that is a bit of a blur, but the moment the accident happened will be stuck in my memory forever.



Harry: Pain in Children

Harry PerkinsHarry Perkins, son of Olympic champion swimmer and former Painaustralia Director Kieren Perkins OAM, was diagnosed with chronic migraine at the tender age of eleven.


Katia: Sport injury

katiaI was nine years old when I damaged the ligaments in my left leg in a hurdling accident.After a year of treatment my leg hadn't healed – in fact the pain had worsened and I was diagnosed with chronic regional pain syndrome.


Janet: Crushed by a tree

janetSeptember 23, 2006 was a beautiful, still, sunny autumn day.I was in the UK to visit my elderly mother and other family members and had taken the train to London to visit a friend.



Injury caused by phone

mandyMy problems started in the early 1980s with the introduction of computers in most public service departments.In 1986,


Trevor: Injured lifting a child

trevorI injured my neck in 1993 while attending a Scout Jamboree in Canada as a carer for a child with cerebral palsy.My pain symptoms didn't really show up until 1997 when I started getting lots of neck and arm pain.

Daniel: Car Accident

danielBefore my accident, about six years ago, I worked at a prestige car dealership in Brisbane. This work was physically demanding as well as being quite social. We all had to get on well as it could be quite a pressured environment and humour often kept us going.


Dave: Doctor with pain

daveI'd survived the traumas of a major motor car accident, the ignominity of a prostatectomy, and the despair and exasperation of three separate cancers and their harsh therapies, but nothing had prepared me for the greatest challenge of my life, dealing with chronic pain


Juliet: Inherited pain condition

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My pain symptoms started when my menstrual cycle began, at the age of 12. I had blinding pain in my pelvic region, sweating and nausea associated with menstruation. As I got older I also experienced intense back pain, and I would often blackout.



Danielle: Childhood pain

danielleIt was during a long jump attempt at my school's athletics try-outs when I was nine that I first hurt myself.As usual, I ran and jumped but as I hit the sand I felt pain in what I thought was my ankle.


Margaret: Hurt Shopping

margaretThat Friday in June 1990 began like any other Friday – two adults, three teenagers, family pets, all heading out. I was totally unaware that this was the day "Super Mum" would die and life as I knew it would be over.




Sneeze led to neck pain

gerard"Fortunately", the pain from my neck injury was so severe that it was taken seriously from the start.

I have chronic pain from several sources but the most serious and debilitating resulted from a herniated disc at C6-7 caused by, of all things, a coughing spasm.


Peter: Struck by lightning

peterMy first taste of pain and injury was when I was only three years old.We had a car accident and I had my lower lumbar joints damaged as well as whiplash injuries to my neck. No one knew this at the time, though, and by the time I was nine I was having X-rays on my back to find out why I was in so much pain.


Elizabeth: Managing pain

elizabethI was an advisory teacher when I suffered a spinal injury in 2007 that landed me in a Brisbane hospital emergency department.Thanks to a neurosurgeon, I regained the use of my left leg and the crushing pain eased.

National Pain Strategy


"Pain is Australia's third most costly health problem and arguably

the developed world's largest 'undiscovered' health priority."

- Professor Michael Cousins AM, Chair National Pain Strategy

Australia was the first country in the world to develop a national framework for the treatment and management of pain: the National Pain Strategy. Through the National Pain Strategy, Australia is developing a coordinated approach to health policy reform.


The key goals of the National Pain Strategy are:

  • People in pain as a national health priority
  • Knowledgeable, empowered & supported consumers
  • Skilled professionals & best-practice evidence-based care
  • Access to interdisciplinary care at all levels
  • Quality improvement & evaluation
  • Research


We are currently undertaking a review of progress of the NPS

Painaustralia is currently identifying actions that have been or are being undertaken, consistent with the goals of the National Pain Strategy, by government and non-government organisations, in order to inform a review of progress with the strategy. The review is an important step in trying to scope the range of activities underway and help facilitate greater consistency and collaboration, as well as assess the gaps and identify how we can address them. 


So far we have information on the activities of 90 organisations. We are aware other organisations are yet to report on activities they are undertaking, and would like to hear from any organisation that would like to supply us with new or updated information. 


The report will remain in draft form until such time as we manage to collect all relevant input. Pease call us on 02 9130 6086 if you have any queries.


The latest draft document is available here for comment. 


National Pain Strategy 2011 Exe Summary 1                                                              National Pain Strategy 2011 1

Executive Summary




How the National Pain Strategy was developed


The National Pain Strategy was the key outcome of the National Pain Summit held at Parliament House, Canberra, in March 2010.


The Pain Summit attracted 200 delegates representing more than 150 healthcare professional, consumer organisations, funders and not-for-profit bodies concerned with pain and treatment of pain.


The first draft of the NPS was developed by a series of Working Groups led by the Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists - the Faculty of Pain Medicine (ANZCA/FPM), the Australian Pain Society (APS) and the consumer group Chronic Pain Australia (CPA), in collaboration with the MBF Foundation (now Bupa Foundation) and the University of Sydney Pain Management Research Institute.


The initial draft was further developed by a series of Reference Groups representing all primary healthcare disciplines, pain specialists, other relevant medical specialists and consumers. The subsequent draft, aligned with the recommendations of the Prescription Opioid Policy published by the Royal Australasian College of Physicians in April 2009, was released for public and stakeholder consultation in October 2009 and revised prior to the National Pain Summit.


Painaustralia is the body formed to implement recommendations of the NPS, and its primary role is in advocacy and facilitation.


As a result of the NPS, two states – New South Wales and Queensland – are now implementing state-wide pain management plans while others are integrating pain management into their chronic disease management frameworks. A total of 14 new regional pain centres have opened up in three states (NSW, QLD, VIC), and progress is also being made to improve access to education and training for health professionals.


The National Pain Strategy has attracted global interest, particularly in the USA, Canada and Europe. Painaustralia maintains close links with relevant bodies in other parts of the world and represents Australia at key international meetings.

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