This week marks National Pain Week and the 10th anniversary of the founding of Painaustralia.
These significant markers encourage us to reflect on the journey to have chronic pain recognised as a major and often debilitating health condition. Many people now understand that pain is a condition that affects over 3.4 million Australians and costs the economy over $73 billion per annum, increasing to more than $140 billion when the impact of quality of life is taken into account.
Australia is grappling with several Covid-19 outbreaks and three states (NSW, Victoria and SA) are in lockdown. Other jurisdictions are watching nervously, knowing around 89% of our population still remain to be fully vaccinated.
Since Covid-19 arrived on Australian shores early last year, there have been over 32,000 cases and sadly more than 900 deaths. Globally there have been more than 190 million cases and 4 million deaths officially reported although the actual numbers are likely to be much higher.
Our blog today is an article by Sydney author Gabriella Kelly-Davies who has written a book about the incredible life and achievements of Painaustralia founder Dr Michael J. Cousins AO. Painaustralia will be launching the biography “Breaking through the pain barrier. The extraordinary life of Dr Michael J. Cousins” on Sunday 25 July.
On 25 July 2021, Painaustralia will be launching my biography of a trailblazing Australian pain medicine pioneer, Breaking through the pain barrier. The extraordinary life of Dr Michael J. Cousins.
Australia rightly seems consumed by discussions about the Covid vaccine rollout and the benefits versus risks considerations for the Astra Zeneca and Pfizer vaccines.
With a federal election looming sometime in the next 10 months, politicians have entered the fray variously seeking to take credit for the rollout (when things are going well) or trying to make sure that blame for the slow rollout and increased frequency of Covid outbreaks lands on their political opponents – or at least on another tier of government.
For people living with pain conditions and their health practitioners trying to work through what is safe and effective to put into our bodies, it is the regulators and the experts, rather than the politicians to whom we should turn to in order to seek guidance and reassurance.
Painaustralia CEO Carol Bennett highlighted the issue of implementation of MBS item number changes in last week's blog. As she mentioned, the Pain Management Clinical Committee was chaired by Dr Chris Hayes, and while the bulk of the work of that committee was spent reviewing and updating item numbers related to pain management procedures, there were a number of other recommendations that were made by Painaustralia, the Australian Pain Society and Faculty of Pain Medicine among others that were specifically aimed at seizing the opportunity to review the state of Medicare funding for community-based care.
Many readers will have heard about the forthcoming changes to Medicare that are due to come into effect next week on 1 July.
The Australian Government has announced that the changes will affect the rebates the government provides under Medicare for general surgery, orthopaedic procedures such as hip and knee replacements as well as medical treatment involving cardiac devices. In all close to 900 Medicare items will be impacted.
The government’s announcement and very short time for implementation has understandably resulted in a lot of confusion and concern among patients booked in for treatment for conditions in these areas after 1 July – many of whom will be experiencing pain and restrictions on mobility while they wait for their procedures.
This week is Men’s Health Week, a week to consider and reflect on men’s health. For us at Painaustralia, our primary focus is on the impact of pain on men’s wellbeing including their physical and mental health.
We know that men experience pain across all ages and in all walks of life. Unfortunately for far too many men, Australia’s masculine culture of quiet stoicism and fear of admitting to any weakness acts as a barrier to acknowledging and seeking treatment for their pain. This in turn can have serious adverse effects on all aspects of men’s lives, including relationships, employment, mobility and general quality of life.
Our blog today is an interview by our Pain Champion Tara Moss with Daniel Scali who is attempting to break a Guinness World Record for the longest abdominal plank. Both have been diagnosed with Chronic Regional Pain Syndrome. Tara talks with Daniel about his journey and why he is raising funds and awareness.
Thank you so much for the wonderful work you are doing to raise awareness for CRPS (Complex Regional Pain Syndrome) and chronic pain, and funds for Painaustralia. You were injured 16 years ago, leading to CRPS. Can you tell us a little about what your journey has been like?
Thank you Tara, for taking the time and asking me questions regarding my condition and journey. Growing up with CRPS over the last 16 years has been really challenging, frustrating, exhausting and of course, painful. I broke my left arm when I was 12 and had my 13th birthday in hospital. After the initial break of my arm, I felt like something wasn’t right with the way my skin and overall arm felt, from the top of my shoulder all the way down to my hand. I experienced a shooting, burning and aching pain as my arm was resting which intensified when I moved it. I also noticed that I had less freedom to move my left hand and shoulder like I normally did before I broke it.
Suicide is not an easy topic to talk about. Even in news stories about people who have taken their own life, reporters and journalists are reluctant to detail how. They instead say something like ‘the death is not thought to be suspicious.’ We used to think not talking about suicide made it less likely.
According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, between 2002–2017 the age-adjusted rate of suicide in ex-serving men was 18% higher than among Australian men. Many factors are associated with the higher suicide risk for suicide in veterans - including chronic pain.
20 MAY 2021
A time to celebrate. There are a few seminal moments that are significant in the history of championing a cause. In the past 10 years in the pain management area in Australia, one was the work of the founding members of Painaustralia to set up the organisation. After a lot of battles hard fought and won and with the help of all those who work to support consumers living with chronic pain as well as consumers themselves – 18 May 2021 is another.
The Morrison Government handed down its 2021-22 Budget on Tuesday this week. A Federal Government budget will rarely, if ever, satisfy everyone. Inevitably what is reported the next day are superficial listings of winners and losers, but things are often not quite that clear cut. For those living with chronic pain, there appear to be some gains, some potential losses and some measures we will need to see more detail on before we can exercise our judgement with any certainty.
How many of you look up the reviews of a restaurant, mechanic, or any business in fact, before deciding to book? The internet has allowed us to be more selective about where we spend our money. We want good value, high quality products and services and we make our opinions known when our expectations aren’t met.
We don’t quite have this immediate feedback available when it comes to healthcare, but some reports, such as the Atlas of Healthcare Variation, do shine a light on whether some treatment options are providing low value to the Australian healthcare consumer.
Diet and good nutrition are important preventive measures that contribute to better health. So tell me, have you heard of the lamb chop and pineapple diet?
It involves eating lamb chops and pineapples three times a day for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The rather dubious science behind it was the lamb would provide sufficient protein for strength and pineapples enough sugar for energy, while the acid within the pineapple would negate the fat contained within the lamb chops. It was adopted and promoted by Nita Naldi and other Hollywood celebrities in the 1920s. She claimed the diet made her lose 20 pounds. However, the diet made her sick for weeks and she subsequently abandoned it after suffering from dizziness and hunger...READ MORE
22 APRIL 2021
“Mental health problems and post-traumatic stress in particular, are underpinned by a pain condition that becomes chronic and disastrous if not well managed”
Peter Rudland, Chronic Pain Champion
I’ve heard it said that it can be more difficult to rule yourself than to rule a city. This statement speaks to the fact that the battles that we face in the world are sometimes simpler, less opaque, than those that live within our minds. When we fight our enemies, we assess their strengths, tendencies and vulnerabilities and can make a plan to overcome them. But what if that enemy is our mind and it makes us believe that we are allies and that we don’t need help?
When it comes to pain relief, there are few medications that are as well-known and trusted as paracetamol. It is one of the most used medicines in the world and has been in Australia since the 1950s.
The brand names of drugs that contain paracetamol include Panadol, Herron Paracetamol, Panamax and Dymadon, just to name a few, but paracetamol is sold under many brand names in Australia and internationally.
Paracetamol was for decades marketed as having abilities to provide targeted pain relief. As recently as 2016, pharmaceutical companies were advertising the ability of paracetamol to provide pain relief for specific conditions such as back and neck pain.
In the wake of recent changes to the availability of pain medicines, many in our networks have asked what medicine scheduling means and how it affects them.
If you are walking down the street and stopped by police, you’d certainly rather have just picked up a schedule 2 substance than a schedule 9. If you are feeling ill and need relief, your GP may prescribe you a schedule 4 medicine. What does this all mean? Let me explain.
Last Friday, 26 March, Painaustralia appeared before the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Health, Aged Care and Sport to give evidence into the Inquiry into Approval processes for new drugs and novel medical technologies in Australia.
My testimony at the Inquiry stressed the need for consumers to be at the centre of approval processes for new medicines and medical devices and that these are critical therapeutic options for people living with chronic pain.
Imagine that your son or daughter are in pain. From the minute they wake up, throughout the day and as their head hits the pillow, they’re hurting. Imagine what they are feeling and then imagine that they are unable to tell you, or anyone, and can’t do anything about it. What would you give to alleviate their pain even if it is just for a moment?... READ MORE
What is one of the most common reasons for people of working age leaving the workforce and is also the leading cause of disability globally? If you guessed back pain, then you’d be right.
Back pain accounts for more than 40 percent of forced early retirements in Australia and is associated with poor quality of life, lower income and mental health issues. Back pain, along with osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis, fibromyalgia and gout are what are called musculoskeletal (MSK) conditions...READ MORE
Living with chronic pain can take a physical, emotional and mental toll. It can result in being unable to study, work or maintain relationships. It can limit the extent to which a person participates in daily activities. Chronic pain can isolate you, reduce your quality of life and wear you down. Now, replace ‘chronic pain’ with ‘mental health’ and the paragraph above would still be accurate.
While overall awareness of mental health and responses to it have improved over recent years, the same can’t be said for chronic pain which remains a largely invisible condition...READ MORE
Read this fictional job advertisement, based on the research and experiences of people in this occupation, and decide if it is appealing to you.
‘Staff wanted: Must work more than 60 hours per week. Must like being under constant time pressures. Must be a night owl because you will be regularly required to work through the night and into the early hours of the morning while constantly avoiding safety hazards. Must like social isolation and the potential threat of violence every time you work. Best not to have any family as you might barely get to see them. You will likely become overweight or obese in this job because of its demands and you are four times more likely to get injured while doing this job. Finally, if you’re a man, your risk of suicide is higher in this job than in other occupations.Apply now .’..READ MORE
In June 2020, PBS changes were introduced along with new regulatory changes aimed at restricting the long-term use of opioids. These changes were implemented to reduce hospitalisations and deaths caused by opioids. Some of the associated measures included reducing pack sizes of opioid medications to just 10 tablets, restricting repeat prescriptions and encouraging doctors to wean their patients off the drugs where possible while not prescribing to ‘opioid naïve’ people...READ MORE
For this week’s blog we talk to Megan Kuleas about her pain story.
Megan Kuleas is 31 years old and is a self-described ‘proud Canberran’. Working full-time in the public service, Megan is undertaking postgraduate study while also finding time to volunteer with local charities.
Megan’s pain story began when she was young, being diagnosed with Poly-Cystic Ovarian Syndrome and then later diagnosed with endometriosis when she was 18...READ MORE
Imagine that you tried to fill your script and were told that your usage has been flagged as a potential risk because the medicine you are using is now being monitored.
Over the coming weeks and months, you’ll start hearing more about Real Time Prescription Monitoring (RTPM), a national system that is now being implemented by each State and Territory. The RTPM system was developed to address growing concern about overdose and accidental deaths. Theoretically, it is only seeking to reduce inappropriate use...READ MORE
As we start to settle into a new year, Painaustralia has presented our Budget Submission 2021–22, with three key priority areas to provide immediate, practical and long-term benefits for people who live with chronic pain.
The Federal Budget is an opportunity for the government to make a real and meaningful commitment to chronic pain as a health priority and Painaustralia’s submission outlines current best strategies and solutions for addressing this widespread and complex issue... READ MORE
The year 2020 will be synonymous with historic events and the use of the terms ‘unprecedented’, ‘pivot’ and ‘new normal’. There is no doubt it has been a tough year – including for people living with pain. We know that they have experienced a double whammy of challenges through the pandemic and opioid reforms.
However, as we reflect on the past 12 months, it is valuable to look for the achievements among the hardships... READ MORE
Last month the Australian Medical Research Advisory Board (AMRAB) finalised the health and medical research priorities for 2020–2022. The priorities are based on consultations from September and October and will guide future Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) investments under the Australian Medical Research and Innovation Strategy 2016–2021...READ MORE
Endometriosis has historically been a largely misunderstood condition and while it is gaining in recognition, and we are beginning to understand more about symptoms and treatments, there is still a long way to go...READ MORE
“I think that people need to understand that we don’t want to be in pain. Our whole lives have been changed, we need understanding, compassion and help, not to be humiliated.” – person living with chronic pain.
This week’s release of the Productivity Commission Inquiry Report into Mental Health has provided an opportunity to highlight the need for a shift to targeted and innovative solutions for those who fall through the cracks of mental health services. This is especially true for the 3.37 million Australians living with chronic pain...READ MORE
This week, I spoke to ABC news about an issue that I know is impacting many people living with pain: rapidly diminishing options for pain management.
This year has presented more challenges than most, but for the 3.37 million people living with chronic pain, things have been even more problematic. The 1 June opioid reforms have created access problems throughout the health system, with consumers left bearing the brunt...READ MORE
Through the month of November we want to hear from people living with pain, as we highlight stories and encourage discussion as part of our #mypainjourney campaign.
We have previously spoken about individual stories of pain and how each individual’s experience and situation can be quite different. Everyone living with pain has a story of learning about their pain, finding support and exploring pain management options. We want to hear them all..READ MORE
In the two years since the announcement of the Royal Commission into Aged Care, a lot has changed. The events of 2020 have overwhelmed health care systems around the world. One of the most significant issues to emerge is the serious systemic failings of Australia’s aged care system. With three-quarters of COVID-19 deaths in Australia accounted for in aged care homes, the system seems not only broken, but in some cases, it has proved to be actively harmful for the very people it intends to care for...READ MORE
This week, Painaustralia released our position paper on medicinal cannabis to mixed reactions.
We recognise that consumer interest and demand for medicinal cannabis is high, and we understand that medicinal cannabis can be an appealing option of pain relief for people who have been living with chronic pain and have tried various other methods with limited success. That is why we support its availability as a potential Schedule 3 drug available over the counter. We want to see medicinal cannabis included as another option in the pain management toolkit, but this must be backed by an independent evidence base to support the effectiveness and safety of medicinal cannabis products for chronic pain...READ MORE
There is mounting evidence that while medication can play an important role in pain treatment, the best practice approach for pain management is multidisciplinary. However, this approach currently remains unaffordable and inaccessible for most Australians, leading to an over-reliance on medication to manage pain in an average of 70 per cent of GP consultations...READ MORE
Pain is an invisible condition affecting 3.37 million Australians. Just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it isn’t there.
Building a better understanding of pain to address issues of discrimination, misunderstanding and stigmatisation in the community is essential if we are to reduce the sometimes severe impact on those living with pain, their families and carers...READ MORE
Last week we submitted our submission to the National Preventive Health Strategy.
The Strategy, announced in June 2019 by Minister for Health, the Hon Greg Hunt MP, aims to help Australians improve their health at all stages of life and forms a part of Australia’s Long Term National Health Plan. It aims to improve Australians’ health through early intervention, better information and targeting risk factors and the broader causes of health and wellbeing. These goals align directly with improvements that need to be made for pain in Australia...READ MORE
We are living in a world of content overload. With technology advances and people’s increasing reliance on social media for news and updates, quality information that is free from vested interests can fall by the wayside...READ MORE
September marks Pain Awareness Month hosted by the International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP). Ideally, this month sparks more conversations and understanding about pain between health professionals, people living with pain, policy makers and the wider community...READ MORE
If you ask anybody who has experienced acute pain due to an injury, surgery, whoever you ask, no matter their age, background or gender, there will be one consistent theme – no one will ever want to experience that pain again. Now consider walking in the shoes of someone who lives with a similar level of pain every day, year after year. It’s not hard to imagine why someone living with such a condition would seek relief...READ MORE
August 31 was international overdose awareness day, a joint initiative highlighting the personal and societal toll of drug overdose; an issue affecting both urban and regional communities throughout the developed world...READ MORE
It seems so obvious that pain is a major contributor to quality of life. Perhaps it is too obvious? When you consider the need to offer quality aged care, it seems inconceivable that there is no measurement or reporting of pain, and yet that is where we are now...READ MORE
Even at the best of times, pain is a major problem in Australia. And we know there are serious gaps in addressing the health, social and financial issues that result. Many Australians living with pain have been unable to access high quality pain assessment and management, whether due to cost, geographic barriers, low awareness of treatment options, or lack of access to health professionals with the right knowledge and skills...READ MORE
“The opioid reforms have been accompanied by a dramatic increase in stigma around not just opioid medications but also chronic pain itself. Healthcare professionals are now even more predisposed to approach chronic pain patients as though they are drug-seekers. And it hasn’t gotten any easier or cheaper to access alternatives to medications.”...READ MORE
Over the course of the past couple of months, our office has been inundated. Since the rollout of the opioid prescribing changes on 1 June, our staff, along with the chronic pain community and prescribers, have been caught in the impact of these significant reforms...READ MORE
The Parliamentary Friends of Pain Management Group will be co-chaired by David Smith MP and Senator Wendy Askew. The friendship group will be a non-partisan group that is open to all Senators and Members...READ MORE
The old IASP definition of pain as “An unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage or described in terms of such damage” was recommended nearly 40 years ago in 1979...READ MORE
Understanding drug consumption at a population level supports the effective allocation of resources to priority areas. It also allows monitoring of the progress of demand, supply and harm reduction strategies. This approach has served Australia in many important aspects, most recently being the detection of the COVID-19 virus in wastewater in a number of geographic locations...READ MORE
Painaustralia has been working closely with the TGA as part of the Medical Devices Consumer Working Group to ensure that these reforms reflect the concerns that millions of Australian consumers share...READ MORE
“A young man goes to the doctor complaining of severe pain in his back. He expects and trusts that a medical expert, his physician, will assess his pain and prescribe the appropriate treatment to reduce his suffering. After all, a primary goal of health care is to reduce pain and suffering. Whether he receives the standard of care that he expects, however, is likely contingent on his race/ethnicity. But research suggests that if he is black, then his pain will likely be underestimated and undertreated compared with if he is white”...READ MORE
This week the Government announced that it is extending the National Partnership Agreement on Adult Public Dental Service to support the states and territories in delivering public dental services. The $107.8 million one-year extension to the National Partnership Agreement will provide services of around 180,000 additional public dental patients across Australia...READ MORE
This week, the Department of Health through the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) continued to implement a number of regulatory changes to reduce the harm caused by opioid prescription medicines to Australians, with the latest changes announced by Minister Greg Hunt on 1 June...READ MORE
One of the most frequently asked questions we get from consumers here at Painaustralia is where can I get the right help? This has been such a common inquiry, that last year we worked hard to launch the National Pain Services Directory...READ MORE
‘I can’t imagine my life if I hadn’t gotten multidisciplinary care when I did. I still have bad days, but now have the skills and support to manage. Pain is part of my life, but it is not my life.’
These are the words of Sarah Fowler, one of the youngest members of Painaustralia’s Consumer Advisory Group. Sarah shared her experiences on her lifelong journey of managing her chronic pain. Before Sarah found the right care, she and her family had spent many years in the search for answers. She is one of the lucky few in Australia who do find them...READ MORE
Cannabidiol (CBD) has surged in popularity across the globe in recent years. CBD is now sold in many countries and there is widespread belief in its medical value to treat a whole range of conditions including chronic pain...READ MORE
There has been so much in the media and social media about chronic pain and opioids - research papers, surveys, someone’s pain story, some medico’s advice, articles by pain organisations and pain consumers talking out, and the list goes on...READ MORE
The COVID-19 pandemic is having a profound effect on all aspects of society. It has changed so much of what we took for granted and there is a high level of ongoing uncertainty.
As Australia has initiated a broad range of measures to mitigate the impact of COVID-19, mental health has emerged as an area of growing concern. The combination of increased isolation and a sudden change in people’s engagement in work and community clearly poses a real risk in managing individual mental health and well-being...READ MORE
A few weeks ago, before COVID-19 sucked all the oxygen from the room, we covered the issue of the NDIS and how it was increasingly failing some of the very people it was designed to support - people living with complex, often painful, chronic conditions...READ MORE
In this time of uncertainty, we are all asking questions and questions are being asked of us. As a health worker, there is enormous discussion, debate and anxiety regarding our current and future practices, both at work and at home. For the person living with persistent pain, this pandemic can be especially troubling, in part due to the unknown...READ MORE
If you are reading this, chances are you have already been inundated with information on COVID-19. Through this unprecedented health crisis, and in this time of instantaneous media, it’s hard to keep track of the fast paced progress of the virus and the steady stream of advice and information that have followed in its wake. As we move slowly but steadily towards increasing restrictions and increasing measures for social distancing, it will be important to have access to accurate information...READ MORE
These are troubling times. The whole world appears to be caught in the anxious web of this viral crisis, and all we can do is follow the trusted sources of advice to ensure we can assist with the public health effort to change the trajectory of the rising toll of cases...READ MORE
“I went from running marathons to essentially being scared to walk to my car. I got lost in that pain, and it got to the point that I felt that my life had no value.”
Lauren Cannell is a police officer based in Tasmania. Having experienced from persistent pain following a number of health-related events, Lauren became convinced that her body was ‘broken’, and that she would never return to living a normal life...READ MORE
“Application denied” these words are all too familiar for consumers with chronic pain and chronic pain related disability. This is a strong theme reported to us by our consumers who have attempted to apply for access to the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). We have been overwhelmed with the quantity of responses and the level of frustration and despair with the NDIS. What this tells us is that the NDIS is not working for people with chronic pain...READ MORE
This week, Painaustralia was pleased to join with our founding members, the Faculty of Pain Medicine of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists (FPM) at a workshop aimed at cross sectoral input on the implementation of the National Strategic Action Plan for Pain Management...READ MORE
“In December started packing for a gruelling (as it turned out) stint of "scribing" for a Firefighting Strike team where it turned out we successfully defended a number of properties in East Lynne and Brooman. This was the day the Cooraban fire expanded from ~2000 to 40,000Ha, crossed the highway and threatened/ took out houses in N. Durras Depot Beach etc. Day 1 was 21 hrs ending in a bed at 3.30 AM. The next day was shorter…in bed at 2.30 AM! (After having been the lead driver in a convoy where we drove through a fire storm and the back of one of the trucks caught alight.)...READ MORE
The figures are startling. More than 14 million people in Australia are overweight or obese. This includes 2 in every 3 adults, and 1 in every 4 children[i]. Research now indicates that by 2030, 18 million Australians or more than three quarters of the projected Australian population will be overweight or obese[ii]. Chronic pain can further compound the already enormous clinical, psychological, societal and economical burdens of obesity...READ MORE
Last week at the Pain Management Research Institute (PMRI) symposium on Descending the Analgesic Ladder, we heard a compelling journey as Paul Hotz shared his lived experience of managing chronic pain.
Paul is a successful Sydney based businessman. A karate black belt holder, Paul had a busy lifestyle, but also one that was very active and rewarding. A decade ago, Paul had surgery on his knee, which was unfortunately complicated by a complex infection. This and subsequent treatment left him suffering severe pain, and Paul found himself discharged on a high dose of opioid analgesia, specifically OxyContin...READ MORE