Specialists seek answers to complex chronic pain epidemic

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An increasing number of Australians are living with chronic pain and according to private pain medicine practice, Axxon Pain, it is one of the most complex conditions to treat.

According to Pain Australia, one in five Australians are currently suffering from chronic pain, with the prevalence estimated to increase with the nation’s ageing population.

Brisbane Private Hospital pain specialists, Dr Jim O’Callaghan and Dr Brendan Moore, established Axxon Pain in a bid to help the growing number of patients.

“As chronic pain is invisible, sufferers can often feel misunderstood and stigmatised by friends, family and the community around them,” said Dr O’Callaghan.

“As a result, patients often experience decreased enjoyment of normal activities, loss of general function and relationship difficulties.

“Unfortunately, chronic pain is an extremely complex condition, which is why we are so passionate about providing this service to the community and will continually strive to develop the service into the future.”

Dr O’Callaghan said there were three major aspects to the management of patients with chronic pain.

“The first is their nociception – the sensory nervous system’s response to harmful stimuli,” he said.

“This may be helped by interventional techniques or by appropriate use of medications.

“The second area of concern is deconditioning.

“When patients reduce their activity level because of pain their muscles weaken, and as a result of this, they have increased joint instability and further pain.

“The third area of concern is the psychological impact of chronic pain or the underlying psychological issues that may be contributing to a patient’s level of distress.”

Dr O’Callaghan said when it came to treatment, not all patients with chronic pain required surgery.

He said treatment could range from minor spinal interventions, to careful co-ordinated pain management planning, which could facilitate a patient’s re-engagement to meaningful exercise programs.

“This usually results in better pain relief and improved well-being in the longer term,” said Dr O’Callaghan.

National Pain Week is held in July.

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