Pain Management Programmes

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Pain management programmes make use of several disciplines including physiotherapy, occupational therapy and clinical psychology, explains Wendy Solomons clinical psychologist specialising in Health and Pain Management.

Some pain management centres, especially in larger hospitals, are jointly run by professionals from a number of disciplines. In other places, a clinical psychologist or another therapist may work alone. You can ask your doctor to refer you to a pain management centre.

Although psychological approaches are involved, this does not imply that the pain is ·all in the mind. Chronic pain presents serious challenges to sufferers - both physically and psychologically. For example if you canµt join your friends for an outing, go shopping, take the kids to the park or even tie a shoe lace or run for the bus, not only are you suffering from the pain which prevents you doing this but you may feel upset, depressed, angry or frustrated about it too.

These emotions are not the same as the pain itself but often go with it, making the whole experience much more difficult to cope with. You are then left with the problem of the continuing pain and all the negative feelings which can affect every part of your life - work, family relationships, social life, mood and sleep.

Unlike many other approaches, pain management programmes donµt usually aim to cure or eliminate the pain. Instead they focus on helping develop skills to manage pain more effectively, regaining control and quality of life in areas which have been affected by pain and/or disability.

The programmes are tailored to the specific needs and existing strengths of each individual. Some frequently used approaches include: learning more about chronic pain and its effects; identifying goals and realistic ways of achieving them; learning to pace activity and gradually extend its range without ·overdoing itº; mastering techniques to reduce muscle tension (which may contribute directly to pain); and developing ways to manage stress and the effects of chronic pain on mood and relationships.

Research shows that these programmes which address both physical and psychological approaches to coping with chronic pain can offer a great deal of benefit.'

Source: Gaucher's News July 1999

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