Practical pain management skills improve quality of life

An independent evaluation of pain management services across NSW has identified Greenwich Hospital as a leader in reducing patient’s experience of chronic pain and their dependency on medication.

Greenwich Hospital was ranked first for reducing opioid use and third for pain reduction in an evaluation by the University of Wollongong* which collected data from 17 pain services in NSW and an additional 29 across Australia and New Zealand.

Highlighting these outcomes during National Pain Week (July 24-30, 2017), General Manager of HammondCare Health and Hospitals, Stewart James, said they were especially pleasing considering the Greenwich Hospital Pain Service had only been in operation for five years.

Mr James credited these positive results to the innovative, evidence-based pain management program that involved a multi-disciplinary team delivering treatments that went far beyond medication and exercise.

A video series highlighting the stories of several pain service participants has also been released to coincide with National Pain Week.

“Under leading pain specialist, Professor Philip Siddall, our team has seen their patients’ pain intensity reduce without the need to increase medication. This is a significant achievement in providing long-term positive outcomes for people living with pain.”

Prof Siddall said unique aspects of the program include learning practical pain management skills with a specific focus on reducing pain as well as exploring deeper issues such as the impact of pain on identity and purpose.

“By understanding the impact that the pain has had on the patient we are able to devise individualised strategies that support them in not only managing their pain but reducing their need for medication.

“Patients also have support from our clinical psychologist, physiotherapist, doctors and nurse, who are all specialists in pain management.”

Published research** by Prof Siddall has shown low rates of depression for people, even if they had severe pain, where they also had a strong sense of meaning purpose.

On the other hand, almost all of those with a lower sense of meaning and purpose had higher rates of depression, even where pain levels were lower.

Pain clinic participant Megan Officer, who has lived with severe chronic pain from a hypermobile pelvis, said the skills learned through the pain service had given her hope where she had none before.

“And that’s really life-changing,” she said.

Sue Ewart, who injured her back in an accident and has lived with pain for 40 years, said she went to the Greenwich pain clinic with an empty toolbox and came away with one nearly full of ideas of how to live better with her condition.

“Every night when I go to bed I look at my day and I’m so grateful,” Sue said.

Both Megan and Sue’s stories features in the videos released for National Pain Week:


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