The pain management service consists of a team of professionals who have a special interest in long-term pain. They can advise you on different aspects of your pain and may be able to offer some treatment to help you manage it better.
Pain that has lasted for over three months is different from short-term pain. This kind of pain is sometimes called chronic pain or persistent pain. For long-term pain the things that usually help pain, such as taking a lot of rest do not work. Treatments such as surgery are also usually unhelpful and can make things worse.
Pain usually works as a warning signal. It can stop us from overdoing things, or from doing anything that might make an injury worse. It’s our body’s way of keeping us safe when it works well.
Unfortunately sometimes problems can develop with this pain system. High levels of pain can continue even after an injury has healed, or normal activities might gradually become more painful. Usually when pain lasts for more than three months the problem that we have is not with an injury but with the pain system itself. The World Health Organisation now recognises that long-term pain is a valid health condition in its own right.
Unfortunately there is no cure for long-term pain. Sometimes it will settle with time but for the vast majority of people it will continue. Treatment is aimed at helping you to manage the pain on a day-to-day basis in a way that helps you to keep it under control.
The pain management service offers a range of options that may help you to manage your pain better which may include:
- Medication - medication is much less effective for this problem than for short-term pain, and can also have unpleasant side effects. Nevertheless sometimes it can help to ease symptoms to some extent. This will be discussed at your appointment if it is relevant to your circumstances.
- Education and assessment sessions - These are the first point of contact for patients who have been seen by a doctor in the pain clinic and may benefit from work with other members of the team. At the assessment session you will meet members of the team including a psychologist and a physiotherapist or nurse. You will be given a presentation about our current scientific understanding of how pain works. On the basis of this we will discuss the interventions that we offer and how they may help. There will also be an opportunity to ask questions and discuss options with staff members. Each session will be attended by up to 10 patients and lasts about an hour and a half. Sessions are currently available at Morpeth NHS Centre and at North Tyneside General Hospital.
- Pain management courses - we can help you to understand long-term pain and how to manage it in the best way. You may be invited to attend classes about finding the best way to manage pain which may involve changing the way you do things. Attending a pain management plan programme can give you the opportunity to try out different ways of doing things with the support of a specialist and of other people in a similar situation. Pain management courses are usually run by psychologists and physiotherapists and take place over eight sessions. Booking is by invitation by a member of the pain management team.
- Mindfulness courses are also available to help you to develop skills which can help you to live well with pain. They take place over eight sessions and can be booked by invitation only.
- We also run monthly self-management classes which you can attend every month or just occasionally if you would like to find out more about managing your pain.
- Psychology – most of our psychology input is on the courses above. A course of up to eight individual sessions with a psychologist may also be available. These sessions would usually involve working with a psychologist to change something in your life that has an impact on how well you are able to manage your pain. In order to benefit from these sessions it is important that you can commit to trying out some of the things discussed in between sessions.
- Physiotherapy - individual appointments with a pain management physiotherapist may help to find the right balance of activity and provide practical help to build on it. They understand about long-term pain and will not push you to do more than is comfortable.
- Injections - therapeutic injections are sometimes offered and can lead to some reduction in pain for a temporary period. This can provide a window of opportunity to work on exercise or other pain management techniques while the pain is reduced. Injections are not a permanent solution to pain and can usually only be offered for a limited time.
- TENS - TENS machines can be loaned for a period of three months following which patients have the option to purchase a machine at a reduced rate if it has been helpful. An electrical signal is transmitted to stick-on pads which can be placed on the body to interfere with pain signals.
- Acupuncture – this is not recommended for the treatment of most kinds of long term pain but occasionally may be offered for a maximum of 6 sessions.
- Scans – these are very rarely offered as they very rarely show a problem that can be cured. Scans may occasionally be offered if the doctor thinks that surgery could be indicated. This will be discussed with you if relevant.
Our pain management team includes consultants, specialist nurses, physiotherapists and clinical psychologists and you may see a number of different members of the team during your treatment.
- Dr Tim Bamigbade, consultant in anaesthesia and pain management
- Dr Gwenda Cavill, consultant in anaesthesia and pain management
- Dr Christopher Coe, consultant in anaesthesia and pain management
- Dr Joanne Parkins, consultant in anaesthesia and pain management
- Mrs Liz Beattie, superintendent physiotherapist
- Mr Jonathan Kelly, superintendent physiotherapist
- Mr David Bell, senior physiotherapist
- Mr Dave Hopper, senior physiotherapist
- Mrs Sara Brookes, chronic pain nurse specialist
- Dr Christine Davies, clinical psychologist
- Dr Jen Woodhouse, clinical psychologist
- Dr Becca Hartley, assistant psychologist
- Mr. Phil Sizer, pain trainer
If you have a question or concern please contact the chronic pain nurse specialist on 01670 529540.
Understanding pain video (Hunter Medicare)
If you need to change your appointment please call 0344 811 8118 and one of our patient care advisors will help you re-arrange it.