Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Chronic pain relief just a deep breath away

As part of National Pain Week, Northern Territory Health is encouraging Territorians to seek appropriate support and assistance to deal with chronic pain.

Director of the Chronic Pain Service (CPS,) based at Palmerston Regional Hospital, Dr Gavin Chin said the CPS was an outpatient service for people with persistent pain to help them improve their pain management skills.

“Most of us think of pain as a result of an injury or disease will go away once we have medical treatment or the injury heals. For many people this is the case however for others, the pain doesn’t go away,” Dr Chin said.

“In some cases, you can have pain even without an obvious injury or body damage. This ongoing type of pain is called chronic pain.”

It is estimated that one in three Australians live with some form of chronic pain. 

Dr Chin said the CPS takes a multi-modal team approach to help Territorians manage their chronic pain.

The team includes a doctor, physiotherapist and psychologist.

“The CPS will help people to better understand how pain works; learn skills to manage pain, improve activity levels and coping skills and to overall improve your quality of life.”

He said gaining control over your breathing is a first step to reduce stress and the pain experience:

  • Find a comfortable position;
  • Breathe into your diaphragm (stomach) rather than chest;
  • Take a breath in for 3 seconds-through the nose if possible & hold the breath for 1 second;
  • Release the breath taking 4 seconds- through the nose if possible. (You can increase this to a 4-in, 2-hold, 6-out breathing rate with practice);
  • Try to practice at least once or twice a day at a time when you can relax and be free from distraction.

“Movement and exercise can be helpful to reduce pain and improve function. A good place to start is with exercise such as walking, cycling, and swimming. Relaxation and stretching such as yoga, tai chi, and breathing exercises are also useful. Aim to find a level of movement that is comfortable for you,” Dr Chin said.

To see the CPS team, you will need a referral from their GP and then need to fill out a CPS Patient Screening Questionnaire.

“People can then book an assessment with the doctor, physiotherapist and psychologist. During this assessment, you will spend an hour with each professional. This allows us to assess your pain and work with you on a treatment plan that best suits you,” Dr Chin said.

“After your assessment, we will send a letter to your GP outlining the treatment plan. This is to make sure you get ongoing care and support in the community.”

The Chronic Pain Service can be contacted on (08) 7979 9577 or email ChronicPainService.DoH@nt.gov.au

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