Pain is defined by the International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP) as “…an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage or described in terms of such damage”.¹ Potential mechanisms for pain and the risk factors for associated disability have been extensively studied in order to understand the pain experience and to minimise the impact of pain on an individual’s life.
1 in 5 Australians experience chronic pain
It is estimated that chronic pain is the third most costly health problem in Australia.² There is also widespread acceptance that complex chronic pain is best managed with a multidisciplinary approach.
Physiotherapists play a critical role in assisting people to live with chronic pain. Physiotherapists work across the lifespan continuum assisting patients with their pain in primary care settings with the aim of diminishing pain, improving quality of life where possible and preventing acute and sub-acute painful conditions developing into chronic pain.
Some studies indicate that the occurrence of chronic pain in children is as common in adults. Pain in children and young people is often undertreated³ and children and young adults with chronic pain are at an increased risk of transitioning to chronic pain as adults. Also, older people are twice as likely to be diagnosed with chronic pain.
Physiotherapists play an integral role at all stages of this process from acute to chronic presentation through the application of activity based programs utilising cognitive behavioural principles.⁴
Physiotherapy intervention for chronic pain has a focus on empowering people to manage their conditions. Training in self-management for people with pain is part of a person centred approach that aims to educate people around pain science including neuroplasticity, lifestyle modification and the optimisation of function and independence.
Physiotherapists are primary contact professionals who are well trained in the biopsychosocial management of musculoskeletal and other conditions. Physiotherapists are therefore well placed to work with patients whose features of acute and sub-acute conditions put them at risk of developing a chronic pain condition, and to manage chronic pain conditions.
If you ever wish to discuss chronic pain, our treatment protocols, or co-management of patients, please do not hesitate to contact this clinic. We would welcome the opportunity to dialogue with you.