Chronic pain: how to self-manage

Pain management and community pharmacy

The Pharmacy Guild of Australia and Painaustralia have partnered to produce a fact sheet that advises on self-management of chronic pain

A key message of the fact sheet is that medicines alone are not the most effective way to treat chronic pain and that people managing their pain on a daily basis get the best results.

Guild president George Tambassis says that while chronic pain may never be completely resolved it can be managed, and there are many self-management strategies that could help patients.

“Most of us experience pain from time to time, but for 20% of people that pain simply doesn’t go away,” says Tambassis.

“While medicines such as codeine or other opioids are sometimes prescribed for chronic pain, research has shown they are not effective in the longer term, contributing on average to only a 30% reduction in pain.

“Evidence shows that people with chronic pain who are actively involved in managing their pain on a daily basis have less disability than those who are engaged in passive therapies, such as taking medication or surgery,” he says.

Painaustralia CEO Lesley Brydon says it is important for people suffering from chronic pain to learn to ways of managing their pain effectively without medicines.

“Pain medicines come with unwanted side effects such as nausea, drowsiness, constipation, mood change and difficulty in concentrating,” Lesley says.

“In addition, patients can develop a tolerance to opioids and the dosage must be progressively increased to achieve the same pain-relieving effect.

“This joint fact sheet points out a range of non-medicine measures patients can adopt to help manage chronic pain.”

The fact sheet is available on the website of the Guild’s MedsASSIST program and includes information about referral pathways, to assist patients with managing their pain better.

It is also available on the Guild website and the Painaustralia website.

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