The ‘invisible’ but chronic health issue

One in three Australians aged 65 and over battles this condition daily, says survey.

Woman suffering from chronic pain

One in three Australians aged 65 and over is affected daily by chronic pain, according to a survey conducted by Chronic Pain Australia (CPA).

Chronic pain is Australia’s third most costly health burden, the leading cause of early retirement, and costs the economy more than $34 billion per year, the survey says.

The survey, released on Monday at the start of National Pain Week, reported that 86 per cent of respondents said they had encountered stigma or negative attitudes to the ‘invisible’ problem.

Ninety-eight per cent of respondents said the Government was not doing enough to support them and that chronic pain should be listed as a condition eligible for support via the disability support pension.

The survey also found that 70 per cent disagreed with the Government's decision to make codeine prescription-only and that 75 per cent wanted their GPs to be able to prescribe medicinal cannabis to treat their pain.

CPA president Coralie Wales said that people living with chronic pain faced a daily battle fighting physical pain, mental health issues and, possibly, financial pressures in not being able to work to their full capacity.

“Feeling unsupported by the Government and being discriminated against, judged or not believed by friends, family and work colleagues can make their situation even more difficult to cope with,” she said.

Some respondents said medical professionals treated them like drug addicts and ‘doctor shoppers’ when they sought pain relief, while others were told their pain wasn't as bad as they were describing.

"People don't recognise the seriousness and extent of my daily pain. They assume I'm making it up, or being a sissy," one respondent said.

"People think I'm faking my pain," said another.

"[I've been] told by friends, family or my boss, 'But you don't look sick'," said another.

Almost 90 per cent of respondents said the cost of attempting to find pain relief was a financial burden.

“While we have reviewed the recent research into medicinal cannabis for the management of chronic pain (that shows it has no benefit), it doesn’t change what respondents from the pain community have told us," Dr Wales said.

“For many people living with 24/7 pain, current medical options come with side effects that can be quite disabling in themselves and overwhelmingly they want access to other options," she said.

"Medicinal cannabis represents a new possibility to help treat their chronic pain. What we’re hearing is that people living with chronic pain want simpler access, without feeling like criminals.”

Dianne Wilson, chair of the APA Pain Group, emphasised the importance of movement for chronic pain sufferers.

“It may seem counter-intuitive, but for most chronic pain sufferers, maintaining movement is the best thing they can do. Physiotherapists have the expertise to guide patients through an education and exercise program, pacing and grading their program to suit the patient’s individual needs.”

Do you suffer from chronic pain? Have you found ways to relieve the condition? Do you think the Government should be more supportive of sufferers?



    To make a comment, please register or login
    24th Jul 2018
    I live with constant chronic pain and have done for over 30 years. Last year, a wonderful physiotherapist gave me some exercises to do to relieve my back pain and they actually helped. However this year, I've undergone one knee replacement and one hip replacement and have therefore been unable to do those exercises and of course, the pain has returned. I can't wait to get over the knee and hip surgeries so that I can get back into doing the exercises for my back.
    24th Jul 2018
    "While we have reviewed the recent research into medicinal cannabis for the management of chronic pain (that shows it has no benefit), it doesn’t change what respondents from the pain community have told us," Dr Wales said. Dr Wales that is rubbish. Cannabis does help with pain relief, I can state categorically it does improve ones ability to cope with chronic pain. It does not cure the problem but it is as much a help if not better than any prescription addictive medicine. These doctors who keep demonising Cannabis make me think they have a pharma company behind their thinking. It has already been proven to be a great and natural anti inflammatory.
    24th Jul 2018
    Doctors are not 'demonising cannabis' at all. They are simply asking for the evidence as they do with any and all treatments. Where the evidence exists and is compelling, changes are made. Until then, caution is not only advisable it is required.

    Cannabis may have many uses in medicine and pain relief may be one of them for some people. Just as there are different types of pain so there are different types of treatment and not all suit everyone. There is no -one-size-fits-all and medicinal cannabis is no different.

    The trouble is people want a quick fix and they want it now. Much pain can and is relieved by exercise of an appropriate type, but people just don't want to know that. They are so used to popping pills they now demand pharmaceuticals even when not necessary. Of course painkillers (of any kind) have their place, but so does the right diet and exercise and those are far less likely to cause secondary problems.
    24th Jul 2018
    The medical industry will not support cannabis for pain because they will wait until it is put in a pill form and then make money from it. In the USA and Canada there is work being done to stop the use of cannabis oil because it works, and big pharma do not want people to stop using their dangerous pharmaceuticals so I have read.
    24th Jul 2018
    I have neck and back pain from an old scoliosis aggravated by a fall 4 years ago. None of the medical treatments worked. Strong painkillers make me ill. At one point I was taking 30 mins just to get out of bed. Luckily I found a wonderful kinesiologist, also practices gentle chiropractic care, who treats the whole body. It's no good trying to treat just the localised symptom. I do believe the government should do more to assist, it should be a recognised condition for financial and physical assistance. I had to spend quite a bit for treatments which were not covered, and were useless anyway. Still not 100% but at least able to move around and enjoy life now.
    24th Jul 2018
    I have severe degenerative osteo arthritis, with both knees now just bone and nerves, a spine which while degenerating has trapped the roots of two major nerves, o/a in both shoulders. No, due to post op MRSA (golden staph) knee replacements are not an option, no surgery can be done on spine or shoulders. By the way, I am not a carrier, but the "bug" gravitates to me in hospitals! The pain is extreme, opoids, etc., are ineffective. As I have a "good" brain and I am alive, I have no wish to become drugged to the extent I just "exist"! This has been getting worse over 2 decades and I daresay will continue. Rhizotomy (burning of the nerve endings), provides relief for a few months. This is under CT/local and stops pain signals going to the brain. "I am not so bad I couldn't be worse", therefore, I am fortunate to be here today! Good Luck Everyone on their Journey with chronic pain!
    Old Geezer
    24th Jul 2018
    All you need to do is teach your brain how to control your pain. I should be in a lot of pain but am now pain free since I have taught my brain to ignore my pain.
    24th Jul 2018
    I am certain that it would be a truly wonderful and generous thing if you could let us all know exactly how you did that.

    Please do give details.
    24th Jul 2018
    I have been told that I have a very high pain threshhold, so am already ignoring as much as I can!! I manage with most household chores and take frequent "pain breaks" when the pain is overwhelming! So, I also would be interested in your methods!
    24th Jul 2018
    The best way to get the pain out is to have a good rest during the day (Siesta - 1 hour x day) avoid stress (No arguments or worries) and live a healthy life without worries have friends and have fun like dance walk around, play golf anything that keep your mind busy ..... get a hobby build things etc etc

    I use to have neck pains all the time for about 6 months the doctor gave me pills and all the same so I decide to find my own cure and that is what I did now I have no pains at all for about 10 years

    I believe that most of your chronic illness are created by your thinkin, worries and stress ..... Now I live well no pains or any medicines at all ....
    24th Jul 2018
    OG ...This time I fully agree with you You are absolutely correct ....
    24th Jul 2018
    Agree with you up to a point, OG, but a pain is often telling you there is something wrong and you need to take notice.
    Old Geezer
    24th Jul 2018
    Scans tells me I have knees so bad I shouldn't be able to walk but I walk kilometres every day without any pain. Scans also say I have problems with my spine and I need pain killers for the pain but I don't need to take anything.
    24th Jul 2018
    OG you are a dick
    24th Jul 2018
    OG you area a dick
    29th Jul 2018
    He must have 2 of them, can't be that silly.
    24th Jul 2018
    I recently had dental work. Nothing other than codeine relieved the pain. I had to suffer from Friday night until an appointment on Monday morning.
    I don't use codeine regularly however taking this product off the market is cruel. NO amount of exercising my mouth would have made the pain any less.
    Old Geezer
    24th Jul 2018
    I had dental work done too recently. Was given instructions on all the pain relief pills I needed and when to take them etc. I didn't take one pill as I simply didn't need them at all.
    24th Jul 2018
    Agree, Rosret, and dumb comment above ignored. It was a really dumb decision to remove codeine as an over-the-counter product, as they could have simply implemented a database updated by Pharmacists to control excess usage - obviously a money-maker for GPs now. It is an excellent product even for back pain, as it calms the irritated nerves and promotes the body naturally recovering sooner than other pain killers.
    24th Jul 2018
    I live with chronic pain. tens treatment /heat / and as a last resort pain killers I tried physio and it was great till I got in the car.
    24th Jul 2018
    I have pain in arm/shoulder from an injury when the old lawn mower cord broke when I was having trouble starting it 6 months ago. I have been reading up on trigger point therapy and even though I have only just starting doing it a little, it seems to be working, I also massage it with comfrey cream.
    29th Jul 2018
    If you are already in Facebook, have a look at the group Lifewave Team Learning. There could be answers there for you? World wide this is leading to one of the safest most effective means known to ease so many chronic conditions.

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