Pain Management Programs
Pain Management Programs (PMP) are rehabilitation based multidisciplinary program for people with chronic pain which involves a group of clinicians, eg nurse, physiotherapist, psychologist etc often led by a pain medicines specialist, who assist patients to bring pain under control. Often people attend PMP's after many therapies have had limited success. The team of experienced health care professionals at hospitals work closely with patients and the PMP's are generally tailored to individual patient's clinical needs.
Many public and private hospitals now run specialist Pain Management Programs that aim to teach a group of patients with chronic pain about how and why chronic pain develops, how best to cope with it and how to live a more active life. Many of APMA's personnel, mentor graduating patients, have attended a PMP themselves, so contact us if you would like to chat to a former PMP patient.
The majority of people attending a PMP find that it reduces the disability and distress caused by chronic pain by teaching the physical, cognitive and practical techniques required to improve quality of life. This means that the patient will actively engage with the program and practise the techniques and strategies taught.
Often, this is the first time that a patient has met other people living with chronic pain and finds it worthwhile to share the difficulties and the successes with their peers. For some, this strong bond continues once the program ends. The APMA pain support groups operate to assist people living with pain to continue the pain management techniques so that they become embedded into the lifestyle and don't feel added on or alien anymore.
Referral to a Pain Management Programme is usually via your GP or pain medicine specialist.
Frequently asked questions
Q. Will it take all my pain away?
A. In short, no! The goal of PMP's is to reduce the pain to a tolerable level and also to improve what you can do, so you can engage more with the activities that are important in your life and make it worthwhile.
Q. Will I be cured of my chronic pain?
A. Again, the PMP is not able to do this. Currently, there isn't a 'cure' for chronic pain, unfortunately. However, many people find that following a PMP and by building in the techniques taught, they can enjoy life again and that the pain is not felt as intensely.
Q. I'm not making the pain up – it's not all in my head so why might I need to involve a psychologist?
A. All pain is made in the brain and impacts on thinking and concentration, moods, emotions, sleep and relationships. As well, difficulty with thinking, feeling down, constant fatigue and challenging relationships can, in turn, wind up tension and make pain worse. Psychologists are important for teaching cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) and mindfulness to move pain from being at the centre of the brain's functioning.
Q. I can see that seeing a physio could improve my overall fitness but will it directly help my chronic pain?
A. Often the answer is yes. Modern neuroscience now knows that guided and paced physical activity has the capacity to retrain the brain and therefore pain. Using the muscles and joints as much as you're able sends messages to the brain that all is ok and that there is no damaging occurring with the normal movement and so that the brain doesn't have to keep sending loud warning signals (pain).
Q. I've had pain for ten years, what can I learn that I haven't been able to figure out for myself?
A. Living with severe chronic pain for such a long period shows how well you've done so far. It is likely though that new medical science has come through over that time and the results of this research published in journals which aren't easily available to the general public. Much of this evidence will require a science based degree to fully understand it. This is where the expert clinicians at the PMP come in – they will be required to read these journals and practice the most modern and evidence based pain management techniques so we can feel confident that we are getting the most up-to-date medical practice that has high level evidence of it working.