Figures show that one in five Australians suffer from chronic pain, with that number rising to one in three among people aged 65 years. Pain sufferers often have similar stories to tell about having to come to terms with being in pain, irrespective of its cause. Many people will have had myriad doctors’ consultations and investigatory procedures including scans, ultrasounds, MRIs, CT scans and x-rays, often with no real answers about how the pain might be remedied.

Chronic pain can turn people’s lives into disarray as they find themselves unable to work, socialise or participate in everyday activities which they had previously taken for granted.

Being in pain can mean long, lonely days trying to keep the pain at bay. It is not unusual for prescription medication to not only be ineffective in relieving the pain, but also in having side effects which can worsen a person’s physical and mental state. Spending one’s day reading, undertaking light household tasks or taking short walks may be all that a pain sufferer can cope with as they await their next medical appointment.

Given the demands on our overloaded health system including a lack of medical and nursing staff in some places, various negative situations can occur, including those related to appointment or patient information mix-ups or inability to get medical assistance. Overall, unless pain indicates a life-threatening condition, our health system does not seem to be geared towards helping people determine the cause of their pain and helping them to manage it.

Consumers should keep track of their medical procedures and tests, develop an awareness of the complexities of securing medical services and be able to “question the system” when necessary. People with chronic pain would be wise to take the time to look for doctors, physicians and allied health professionals whose treatments are best suited to their needs.

Pain Support ACT Inc (PSACT) is a community association which promotes the wellbeing and health of people living with chronic or persistent pain, their families and carers, in the ACT and region. PSACT Inc conducts regular meetings, hosts guest speakers and provides information and support. For information see:    tel: 02-6281 1036.

Organisations such as:

provide valuable information for chronic pain sufferers including details of research, studies, overseas developments and treatments.

Watch this space for more information about chronic pain.