This week is National Pain Week in Australia (27 July – 2 August 2020).
Each year in the last week of July, Chronic Pain Australia, the national voice of people living with chronic pain organises National Pain Week to champion the needs of the many Australians living with chronic pain.
The theme for this year is ‘Faces of Pain’ – a video series from a number of different Australians living with various chronic pain conditions sharing their personal insights and challenges.
The Faces of Pain video series is designed to show people living with chronic pain that they are not alone and to showcase what life is like living with chronic pain to help breakdown the stigma associated with it.
If you would like to find out more, visit https://www.nationalpainweek.org.au/.
What is pain and how do you treat it?
Pain is an unpleasant sensation and emotional experience linked to tissue damage. Its purpose is to allow the body to react and prevent further tissue damage.
We feel pain when a signal is sent through nerve fibres to the brain for interpretation.
The experience of pain is different for everyone, and there are different ways of feeling and describing pain. This can make it difficult to define and treat.
Pain can be short-term or long-term, it can stay in one place, or it can spread around the body.
Fast facts on pain:
Here are some key points about pain. More detail is in the main article.
- Pain results from tissue damage.
- It is a part of the body’s defence mechanism. It warns us to take action to prevent further tissue damage.
- People experience and describe pain differently, and this makes it hard to diagnose.
- A range of medications and other treatments can help relieve pain, depending on the cause.
Alternatives to medication
A range of non-drug therapies can help relieve pain.
- Nerve blocks: These injections can numb a group of nerves acting as a source of pain for a specific limb or body part.
- Psychotherapy: This can help with the emotional side of ongoing pain. Chronic pain can often affect the enjoyment of everyday activities and can lead to not being able to work. A psychotherapist can help to enhance understanding and put in place lifestyle changes to enable these parts of life.
- Low level laser therapy
- Transcutaneous electrical nerves stimulation (TENS): TENS aims to stimulate the brain’s opioid and pain gate systems to provide relief.
- Surgery: Various surgeries of the nerves, brain, and spine are possible to relieve chronic pain. These include rhizotomy, decompression, and electrical deep brain and spinal cord stimulation procedures.
- Biofeedback: This is a mind-body technique. Through biofeedback, people can learn to better control their organs and automatic processes, such as their heart rate, with their thoughts.
- Relaxation therapies: This covers a wide range of controlled relaxation techniques and exercises, mostly in the realm of alternative and complementary medicine. This can include hypnosis, yoga, meditation, massage therapy, distraction techniques, and tai chi.
- Physical manipulation: a physiotherapist or chiropractor can sometimes help relieve pain by manipulating the tension from a person’s back.
- Heat and cold: Using hot and cold packs can help. These can be alternated or selected according to the type of injury or pain. Some medications have a warming effect when applied topically to the affected part.
- Rest: If the pain is due to an injury or a repetitive action, rest may be the best option.
With effective pain management, it is possible to maintain daily activities, social engagement and an active quality of life.
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More information from Chronic Pain Australia