If you are in pain and are seeking help, contact your GP or health professional to discuss your pain management options.
There are many aspects to pain management and different pathways to care. Modern pain care uses a ‘whole person’ approach that considers physical, social and psychological factors. It is the most effective way to reduce pain, improve function and mood and reduce disability.
It also known as a bio-psycho-social approach because it aims to address all the factors that influence the pain experience.
The term ‘multidisciplinary pain management’ involves a team of health professionals who work together to comprehensively assess your condition and work with you to achieve your goals—such as being able to return to work or being able to walk the dog—using a range of treatments and strategies.
This process usually begins with your GP and can include allied health professionals such as a physiotherapist, psychologist, pharmacist, occupational therapist etc.
Multidisciplinary care can be difficult to attain for some Australians, particularly those living in regional and remote areas. Sometimes care will be overseen by just one allied health professional, such as a physiotherapist. However, more telephone and online support options are becoming available.
While support is sometimes available with a team of health professionals, it is important that you take responsibility for your health and wellbeing on a day-to-day basis. Self-managing chronic pain includes learning about pain, undertaking a tailored exercise program, nutrition, relaxation and pacing daily activities. Evidence shows that patients who embrace active self-management strategies achieve better outcomes than those who rely on passive strategies such as medication.
Your doctor can help to develop a pain plan and coordinate your team-based treatment. The Federal Government’s My Health Record can also be useful for people who require a team approach to their care.
You may discuss with your doctor whether you would benefit from referral to a pain clinic where you can participate in a multidisciplinary pain management program. These are available in most major public hospitals, while private clinics are also available in some areas. You can look for your closest clinic through the National Pain Services Directory.
Some, but not all treatments, may be eligible for a rebate through Medicare or your private health insurer.
Learning about your pain
The first step in modern pain care is to learn about your pain. Understanding your pain can help you to change the way you respond. The pain system is complex and everyone experiences pain differently – there are some useful resources available to help with your pain education:
Pain is influenced by a number of factors, including biological, social and psychological influences.
This is why it is important to take the lead in your own pain management and find out what strategies work best for you. Having a good support team, either with carers, family and friends, health professionals, or both, will be valuable as you explore pain management options.
Taking an active approach and learning to self-manage chronic pain is an effective way to improve quality of life. A multidisciplinary approach that treats the whole person is also the most recommended pain management strategy.
If you want to learn more about clinical assessment of pain, check out our fact sheet here.
Planning and next steps
If you want to learn more about managing your pain, the first step is to speak to your GP. Depending on your condition, and location, they may refer you to allied health services, or a pain specialist or clinic.