Each year Chronic Pain Australia, the national voice of people living with chronic pain, organises National Pain Week to champion the needs of the many Australians living with some form of chronic pain. People living with chronic pain often feel isolated by their pain. The aim of NPW 2021 is to remind friends, family and professionals that connection is key to addressing the social isolation that pain can create.
Pain is an important signal that our body has been damaged in some way. It can be acute, meaning that it comes on suddenly and lasts for a limited time, or it can be chronic, that is persistent and long lasting.
Chronic pain is commonly classified as lasting longer than three months. It is continuous or returns regularly. Chronic pain may also begin as acute and then persist for long periods of time. For those over the age of 65, one-in-three people experience chronic pain.
Causes of chronic pain are often difficult to identify. Managing chronic pain can be difficult. Some forms of chronic pain can be managed with medicine or surgery. Non-drug treatment such as physiotherapy, acupuncture, relaxation training, meditation, psychotherapy, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) and medicines may help chronic pain.
Your local pharmacist can help too. One of the key aspects to managing chronic pain is medicine management. Pharmacists are medicines experts and can assist you with understanding how your medicines work and any possible side effects. Pharmacies also offer services which can help people living with chronic pain maintain their independence. For example, home delivery, pain management services, and medication management services such as dose administration aids.
Of course, simple pain relievers like paracetamol or the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines, such as Nurofen or Advil, can be very effective when taken in the right dose. And medicines such as antidepressants, anti-epileptics, antispasmodics and steroids – medicines not normally associated with pain relief by patients and their families – are often the drugs of choice. There might also be the need for regular laxatives or occasional anti-nauseants and possibly something for dry mouth caused by the side effects of some of the medicines.
Self Care Fact Cards available from pharmacies include topics such as Pain relievers and Chronic pain.