Calls For New Management Strategies For People Suffering From Chronic Pain
Move away from drugs
More than 3.2 million Australians are currently dealing with chronic pain, with one in five doctor's visits relating to these issues.
Of these patients, over 70 per cent are prescribed a drug as the only way of dealing with pain, which has prompted calls for better pain management strategies to be implemented.
CEO of Pain Australian Carol Bennett told the Hit Newsroom that a new report has shown that chronic pain is costing the economy $139 billion - which relates to health, productivity and wellbeing costs incurred by patients.
"We know that it impacts on people and their capacity to work and be productive, leading to 40 per cent of forced early retirements," she said.
"It's a huge and insidious problem, and it has a huge cost to our community."
Endometriosis, migraine, back pain all examples of chronic pain conditions, and Pain Australia is urging a revision of current procedures when advising patients of the options when it comes to management.
"Chronic pain and mental health are very intertwined. In fact, 45 per cent of Australians living with chronic pain also have depression and anxiety, and they're two-to-three times more likely to be suicidal," Ms Bennett said.
"It has an impact on people's activities, their functionality, their capacity to work, their relationships - it really does impact every aspect of people's lives."
The main issue extends from dependence on drugs to remedy pain.
Instead, a broader approach to health is encouraged - including a combination of strategies.
"We've got to get away from prescription medication, and particularly opioids, as a go-to choice for chronic pain management," Ms Bennett said.
"What we need to see is more proactive self-management of chronic pain and better awareness in the community about what will work. Also, better access to services and support - things like physiotherapy, psychology, exercise physiology.
"We need to give GPs better options to refer and manage people with complex chronic pain conditions. What we're talking about is multi-disciplinary management of pain - that's the gold standard for best practice management of pain."