Better model needed for pain

WITH one in five Australians living with chronic pain, Bundaberg health experts are calling for a more holistic model to help with pain management.

Wide Bay Medicare Local GP Shaun Rudd said the new model to be implemented in the region would focus on controlling pain rather than eradicating it.

"It is very difficult to relieve chronic pain and that is a reality," he said.

"What is being looked at now is functionality and how well a person functions with a degree of pain in the background."

Last week the NewsMail reported that an audit was currently being undertaken of all patients who sought pain management through Bundaberg Hospital and Dr Rudd said part of the audit would involve a review of patient pain treatment.

"There will still be people getting injections but they will be reviewed and if they need that ongoing treatment then it will continue," he said.

Australian Pain Management Association CEO Elizabeth Carrigan said chronic pain was the third most costly health problem in Australia, costing us $34 billion each year.

"That is through lost productivity and health costs," she said.

Ms Carrigan said the greatest problem was that chronic pain was seen as a symptom rather than an ongoing disease.

"Even when the symptom is healed the pain can still be ongoing," she said.

"That is a result of structural changes in the nervous system."

Ms Carrigan said very few health professionals were trained to deal with chronic pain with veterinarians having as much as three times the pain management training than GP's.

"So when we talk about a holistic approach what we are saying is pain impacts the brain cognitively and psychologically as well as physically," she said.

"There needs to be an integrated approach for pain management to bring all the health professionals together for that one person."

Ms Carrigan said that system was currently in place at the Sunshine Coast Persistent Pain Service but that it was an expensive service to replicate in Bundaberg.

"But what they can do is train other health care professionals in the Bundaberg area to be able to deliver this holistic model," Ms Carrigan said.

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