Regular readers of these blog posts will know that I'm often banging on about the advancements in our understanding of chronic pain.
This is a particular area of interest of mine for a few reasons
Chronic pain can have a great impact on sufferers' quality of life
Many people with chronic pain are not aware of recent advancements in our understanding of pain
Application of research into chronic pain can have a great positive impact in people's lives
Earlier this week Pain Australia released the National Strategic Action Plan for Pain Management, which is a plan to make advancements in the research into chronic pain translate into changes in the awareness among health professionals and the public at large, and to change practice among health professionals to better reflect current understanding.
For those interested, you can see the whole plan here
You may have seen stories about this on news programs or on Facebook during the week. Unfortunately, the plan was generally overly simplified so as to fit into a short new segment. As a result (judging by Facebook comments) the plan was often misunderstood as meaning the GPs would no longer prescribe pain medications, but instead would prescribe exercise for all chronic pain patients.
An important part of the plan is to encourage GPs to reduce their rates of prescription of strong painkilling medications such as opioids, and to increasingly consider prescription of exercise as part of the management of chronic pain. This reflects the fact that the research has shown that both general exercise and specific exercises to target potential causes of pain are generally helpful in alleviating chronic pain in the long term, as well as reflecting research that shows that strong painkillers are generally over-prescribed and have the potential to cause worse pain if used long term.
This does not mean that painkillers will no longer be prescribed, nor does it mean that everyone with chronic pain will be prescribed jumping jacks and push ups.
A part of the plan that I'm particularly excited about is to improve awareness of the potential causes of chronic pain. This should hopefully reduce the incidents of people with complicated chronic pain histories being told "you're making it up," or "the pain is all in your head," by their doctors or other health care professionals. All pain only exists in a person's head. This doesn't make someone's chronic pain any less real, or more "made up" than the pain from someone's sprained ankle or broken leg.
For more info on the causes of chronic pain and how we can treat/manage it, check out my earlier posts on the subject, linked below:
While other important aspects of chronic pain are touched on in the following posts:
If you'd like help managing chronic pain, see our physiotherapist in Aubin Grove today!