Acknowledging that people are experiencing persistent and chronic pain can significantly improve their outlook and ability to manage their condition.
That’s the key outtake of a joint DHB and University of Otago Wellington School of Physiotherapy review of studies into the perceptions of people with chronic pain.
The review examined 33 studies, involving 512 people and their perceptions after receiving support to self-manage their chronic pain.
Barbara Saipe and Dagmar Hempel from the DHB’s Pain Management Service were key contributors to the review, which honed in on what enables and prevents people with persistent pain from using self-management strategies in everyday life.
“While it’s normal to avoid activities that increase severe pain, and spend time resting and recovering, avoidance can actually make things worse,” Barbara said.
“Self-management strategies are hugely beneficial for pain conditions where there is not an immediate cure, and can help people to live well with pain and have a better quality of life.
“Having health professionals who listen, validate and acknowledge what patients are going through also makes a big difference in engaging them in the self-management process.”
Another key enabler is the positive influence that supportive relationships – with family, friends and work colleagues – can have on a person’s confidence to self-manage their pain and symptoms.
“While chronic pain is now recognised as a long term condition – rather than just a symptom – it still needs more visibility,” said Dr Hemakumar Devan from the University of Otago Wellington School of Physiotherapy.
“This review reinforces what many of us in the pain sector already know – it’s time clinicians and the community were aware of the role they can play in helping enable people with chronic pain and their whānau to live fulfilling lives.”