Physiotherapist and patient talking with rehabilitation equipment in background

Effective pain management

Pain is complex and the Biopsychosocial approach has been widely recognised which captures a variety of factors that may be contributing to the pain experience:

Bio: Biological factors such as the body structure, physical injury and diagnosis.

Psycho: Psychological factors including attitudes, beliefs and coping strategies.

Social: The social environment such as at work or family.

A biomedical approach focuses purely on the ‘bio’ aspect does not address all of the factors that may be driving a pain experience and does not fit with multiple international guidelines.

An evidence based approach:

1. A biopsychosocial approach to understanding pain

Acknowledging and addressing modifiable factors that can impact mood and influence the pain experience

2. Address concerns about imaging results and pain

Imaging techniques may not necessarily show the cause of pain. It is important to differentiate normal age related changes from findings which may be relevant to the injury. Document ‘Structural damage and pain – It’s not that simple’ located in tools provides more information on normal age related changes for different age groups.

3. Encourage normal activity and movement

Once red flags have been eliminated, getting back to work, even with some modifications can help with your recovery. Movement may be painful at first but symptoms may reduce following activity.

4. Encourage self-management

The vast majority of time is spent away from the health professional compared with time in the clinic. This is why managing your own injury and making the best use of this time is some important to maximise recovery.  Sleeping well, exercising, engaging in healthy habits and cutting down on smoking can all be helpful.

Current evidence shows that opioid medications may not be an optimal approach for chronic long term pain. For more information visit ReachForTheFacts.

The related links contains outcome measurement tools which are validated questionnaires which allow the clinician and the patient to track their progress and response to interventions. These have been shown to be more reliable measures than relying upon using patient subjective reporting alone or rating the pain from 1-10.

Body Location Specific Outcome Measurement

There are a number of body specific outcome measures available including the shoulder, knee, lower back or the upper limb in general. Visit Pain Management Tools which includes a list of links to validated and commonly utilised outcome measurement tools. These tools can provide a valuable method to track the progress of recovery.