Chronic pain still impacting work?

If a staff member is not managing to fully complete work duties due to chronic pain, a pain management program should be considered. Pain management programs do not aim to cure pain, however it is reasonable to expect that pain levels are reduced and more effectively controlled. Through challenging unhelpful beliefs about pain, promoting more sustainable behaviour and developing new skills, the ability to self-manage  pain is enhanced. Empowering people to independently manage their pain while improving their functioning is the key outcome.

A pain management team may include but is not limited to a psychologist, physiotherapist and medical specialist. They identify and address the range of inter-related biopsychosocial factors impacting on a client’s functioning in order to develop a comprehensive treatment plan with the client. An effective team is able to provide a consistent approach that reinforces the key outcome of the program (this is unlikely to be achieved if clinicians are located across different clinics).  Functional goals may include a return to suitable work, independence with domestic activities, re-engagement in leisure activities and a reduction and cessation of a reliance on ineffective pain medications.

Flare ups are a common (and expected) part of chronic pain and the ability to reduce the frequency and effectively manage  a flare up independently is a skill that requires practice. A pain management program is exactly that – a management program, not cure program. However, the scientific evidence consistently supports this approach as an effective way of treating chronic pain conditions.

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