New Group to Improve Information & Support for Chronic Pain

Just under 50,000 people in Forth Valley with chronic pain are set to benefit from closer partnership working between NHS Forth Valley, local authorities and the voluntary sector. Over the next two years, Government funding of £100,000 will support a Service Improvement Group which has been established to try to get information to those in pain much earlier.

Jenny Drinkell, NHS Forth Valley Clinical Specialist Physiotherapist in pain management, said around 15,500 people with chronic pain in Forth Valley will have pain that is severe and highly disabling, with associated personal, social, economic and healthcare costs:

 Pain and low mood go together like fish and chips. Most people with chronic pain manage this in primary care and in the community, and the service improvement group will concentrate particularly on developing pain resources there.”

NHS Forth Valley Clinical Service Manager Clare Balance added:

 Persistent pain does not always settle with medical treatment. When pain does not go away it can knock people off kilter. Like other long term health problems long-lasting pain can affect every part of life. It can change what people do, and how they think and feel. It can change work, mood, sleep and relationships with family and friends.”

The first meeting of the steering group and stakeholders will be held later this month and will seek the views of people like Rachel* who suffer from chronic pain.

Ideas to be examined will include education and information to understand long-term pain, new skills such as relaxation and pacing, encouraging patients to change some of the ways they do things, using movement and exercise and managing setbacks. The goal is to provide a more joined up service which will involve community health staff working more closely with volunteer services, and improved links with hospital colleagues, councils and social services.

Although it’s acknowledged that in many cases pain can’t be cured, the right support could enable people to meet up with friends again, go shopping again and keep up with normal activities, all of which can lessen the impact of pain.

The development of services for people with chronic pain is linked to the Scottish Service Model for Chronic Pain.

*Rachel’s Story:

 “I have been suffering from Chronic Pain for more than 4 years, but it took almost 2 years before I got an accurate diagnosis.  My GP was very understanding and sympathetic and happy to do every test she could think of, including an ultrasound, to try to identify the problem.  However, it was taken out of her hands when I collapsed from the pain and was admitted to hospital, through A&E.  It was at this time that I was referred to the Pain Clinic.  Although I have received different types of treatment and support from the Pain Clinic my diagnosis didn’t come until two years later when I was referred to my Physiotherapist at my GP practice.  I was lucky that he is fully versed in Chronic Pain and recognised it immediately.  We spent the first 6 months discussing Chronic Pain and identifying how it affected me.

“I am delighted that funding has been set aside for Chronic Pain. I needed to know what I know now at the start.  I suffered terribly and found it very difficult to work with my condition. Employment was a real struggle too.  If I had understood what was going on, I would have been able to share this with the different parts of my life, my partner, my family, my friends and my employer, and I think I would have functioned better as a result.  A full, multi-disciplinary approach is needed for Chronic Pain, and whilst I believe there are pockets of knowledge and expertise in Forth Valley, I think there is room for improvement, especially in terms of signposting and sharing of knowledge with patients.  I think the results of this funding bid will be a start in the right direction.”