People who live in regional and remote Australia are more likely to have chronic pain than those who live in major cities. For back pain, the most common form of pain, people who live outside major cities are 23 per cent more likely—and those aged 55 to 64 are 30 per cent more likely—to live with it compared with urban areas.
Higher rates of pain may be associated with rural industries such as agriculture, mining, forestry and fishing which have higher rates of injury. Excess body weight—which is implicated in painful conditions such as osteoarthritis—is another factor, with rural residents 13 per cent more likely to be overweight or obese.
It is important to know that the earlier treatment is sought, the more likely the condition will improve. The most effective treatment for almost every form of chronic pain is multidisciplinary pain management combined with self-management techniques.
Although there are fewer pain specialists and pain clinics in rural areas, there may be telehealth options available, or live-in pain multidisciplinary pain management education programs at city hospitals. There are also an increasing number of health professionals from rural areas being trained in chronic pain management.
For anyone unable to travel, contact the nearest pain clinic or talk to a GP about Telehealth services.