Chronic, or long term is pain which lasts longer than three months. If you suffer from chronic pain, our specialist service is here to support you and provide techniques to help you manage better in your day-to-day life.
Pain usually works as a warning signal and is our body’s way of keeping us safe as it can stop us from overdoing things, or from doing anything that might make an injury worse.
Sometimes though 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.
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. However, the treatment we offer can help you to manage the pain on a day-to-day basis in a way that helps you to live as well as possible with pain.
There are a range of options which will be discussed at your appointment if they are appropriate to your condition. These include:
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.
- 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. You will meet members of the team including a psychologist and a physiotherapist or nurse. We will discuss the interventions that we offer and ask you to choose which you think suits your needs best. These are group sessions with around 10 patients and last about an hour.
- 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. This can give you the opportunity to try out different ways of doing things with the support of a specialist and others in a similar situation. The courses are usually run by psychologists and physiotherapists and take place over eight sessions. The pain management team will invite you to attend if they feel it would be suitable for you.
- Self-management classes
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.
Our psychology input is on the courses above. A course of up to eight individual sessions with a psychologist may also be available which 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.
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.
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 machines can be loaned for a period of three months following which you 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.
This is not recommended for the treatment of most kinds of long term pain but occasionally may be offered for a maximum of six sessions.
If you have a question or concern please contact the chronic pain nurse specialist on 01670 529540.