Non-drug Approaches to Chronic Pain Management

Living with chronic pain is a complex health issue that affects over 3.2 million Australians, with close to 68% of those affected being of working age. As we know, chronic pain can have significant implications on daily functions and quality of life - often leading to challenges with returning to work, mobility, finances and relationships...

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Mental health is also commonly affected in people suffering from chronic pain, with high rates of depressive and anxiety disorders. 

We’ve got the drugs - why do we need bother to find other options?

Standard treatments, with a pharmaceutical and/or invasive interventional approach, are ineffective, associated with significant side effects and may further augment the low self-efficacy and sense of hopelessness that many chronic pain sufferers experience. Multi-disciplinary approaches can address the many complex facets of chronic pain and have been shown to be the most effective way to improve pain self-management and quality of life.

Online pain treatment programs can help

The Chronic Pain – Reboot online course, made available through THIS WAY UP, was developed in collaboration with the Clinical Research Unit for Anxiety and Depression (CRUfAD) and the Department of Pain Medicine at St Vincent’s Hospital, Sydney. It is the first such program to deliver a multidisciplinary approach to pain management. The program incorporates principles of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), teaching skills such as goal setting, thought challenging and communication skills. It contains a combination of educational lessons, graded exercise plans with video demonstrations, relaxation strategies and various resources. Compared to other treatment options available, the Chronic Pain – Reboot course is low-cost at AUD $59 and easily accessible via the internet, increasing accessibility to those living in rural or remote areas or those that cannot attend hospital-based programs.

To evaluate this online program an Australia-wide randomised controlled trial (RCT) was conducted to demonstrate the acceptability, feasibility and efficacy of the program.

 

How do I refer someone?

Clinicians who wish to refer a patient to this online course will need to be registered as a referrer with THIS WAY UP via https://thiswayup.org.au/for-clinicians/. Once clinicians are registered to refer to the program, they can then prescribe the program to a patient via their clinician dashboard. The dashboard also enables them to supervise the patient as they progress through the course.

You can access more detailed information on what the course includes at https://thiswayup.org.au/for-clinicians/overview-of-courses/chronic-pain-overview/.

It’s worth noting that enrolment in the online course should be delayed for patients who are  acutely unwell or suicidal and that concurrent use of benzodiazepines for anxiety or distress is discouraged while doing a course, as this interferes with the development of self-management skills.

Supervising clinicians will also be able to receive automated notifications on their patient’s progress, track questionnaire scores and lesson completion and preview course content via their personalised THIS WAY UP clinician dashboard. That way they can assist patients with applying practical skills to their own specific circumstances ,and encourage them to persevere with the program.

If you are keen to get started with THIS WAY UP to prescribe the Chronic Pain – Reboot course, and have any other questions for our team, please feel free to get in touch with us! We’d love to offer our assistance and provide you with any extra resources to help with using THIS WAY UP effectively. Email us directly via [email protected], visit our website thiswayup.org.au or call us on 02 8382 1437.

[1] Painaustralia (2019).  The Cost of Pain in Australia.  Deloitte.https://www.painaustralia.org.au/static/uploads/files/the-cost-of-pain-in-australia-final-report-12mar-wfxbrfyboams.pdf

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Dr Tania Gardner & Sarah Ramdoo

Dr Tania Gardner is a Titled Pain Physiotherapist and Senior Physiotherapist in the Department of Pain Medicine, St Vincent’s Hospital Sydney, and has over 25 years experience in the treatment of low back pain. Tania was integral in the establishment of the Reboot online program, and continues to be involved in the ongoing research and development of the program. She has a strong interest in chronic pain, enhancing the evidenced based care and increasing accessibility to pain management for those that experience it.

Sarah Ramdoo  is the Communications Officer for THIS WAY UP and has been part of the Clinical Research Unit for Anxiety and Depression (CRUfAD) based at St Vincent’s Hospital for the past 2 years. Sarah has a background in the Health Sciences, Cognitive Science and Psychology and seeks to help iCBT patients get the most out of their digital mental health experience.

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