Chronic Pain Australia state that pain should never be thought of as a normal feature of ageing. Chronic pain (unlike Acute pain) is not a symptom but a condition in its own right. Chronic Pain is complex and thus it must be managed using a combination of approaches to treat it that work for you. Some approaches may work better some days than others but relying on medication alone or avoiding using prescribed medication will not help you manage.
A Note on Medications
Opioids key points summary.
- Examples of Opioids include morphine, codeine, endone etc.
- Opioids are associated with side effects in around 20-30% of people; such as constipation, nausea, dizziness, sleepiness and sleep apnoea
- Long-term opioid therapy is also associated with a greatly increased risk of fractures in older people
- There is no clear evidence to show that long-term opioid therapy can greatly improve chronic pain and restore physical function
- Increasing doses of opioids in chronic pain has been repeatedly linked to harm, including death from overdose
- Non-opioid pain medicines can be effective at relieving pain, but should generally be used only for a short period and only for as long as they are helping to manage your pain
- It is unlikely that any pain relievers will be able to completely stop chronic pain.
- A multidisciplinary approach to management has been shown to be more effective for chronic pain than relying on pain relievers alone
- Medication is best used alongside other non-drug approaches as part of multi-modal management of pain
- Pain medicines do not work for all patients, and often don’t remove pain completely when they do work
- All medicines have side effects and before prescribing a medicine for chronic pain, your doctor will discuss its potential benefits and harms, to help decide whether the medicine may be useful for you
Research shows that people who actively engage in pain self-management techniques report lower levels of pain-related disability, improvements in mood, better general health and reduced use of medicines.
PAIN MANAGEMENT PLANS
Developing a pain management plan – what to consider:
- Activity management (e.g. pacing of tasks and reducing impact on pain areas while participating in tasks)
- Behavioural management (e.g. relaxation techniques, mindfulness, flow)
- Cognitive therapy to help you think more positively about your ability to manage your pain
- Exercise & movement
- Good sleep hygiene (Did you know that lack of sleep can make your pain worse the next day?)
- Limiting alcohol and following a nutritious diet (did you know that some foods and alcohols increase your sense of pain?)
- Medicines management, as needed
A Final Note:
If not managed, pain can impact negatively on all that you do as well as your general outlook on life (wellbeing). Basically being in pain, especially chronic and ongoing pain, is a PAIN. But with a little work, including some trial and error from you, it doesn’t have to be.
Chronic pain is complex and many factors can contribute to it, including state of mind, diet, sleep etc.
Try to make time to find out what factors may be exacerbating your pain and work out ways you can reduce your pain or at least become less aware of it. Giving pain your full attention only strengthens it. Succumbing to your pain is not the same as accepting it but not letting it rule you.
Remember when you first wore a watch – how you were very aware of how it felt – sometimes it may have been irritating but after some time, you didn’t notice you were wearing it. To some extent we can all train our brains to become less aware of our pain by giving it something else to think about.
Take a look at the following video – it may help you really understand your chronic pain a lot better. Chronic Pain Management Video Resource – Brainman – ABC.net.au
Also, take a look through the resources below, get some support and discover what will work for you so that you can get back to enjoying life.
Information, Resources and References
- Hunter New England Local Health Directory – Pain
- Build Your Pain Management Health Care Team
- Questions your doctor may ask to help understand the pain
- Chronic Pain Services in NSW – Find out how Chronic Pain Services can help you. Our local Chronic Pain Service is at Hunter Integrated Pain Service, John Hunter Hospital, Newcastle, Ph: (02) 4922 3435 Fax: (02) 4985 5045. You will need a referral from your GP.
- NSW Pain Management Network provide 7 short very informative education videos. If you prefer you can read the transcripts.
- Australian Pain Management Association
- Mind Spot – Online Pain Course
- Chronic Pain Australia Health Report
- Arthritis Australia – Back Pain Booklet
- Chronic Pain Australia
- Health Direct
- What Chronic Pain Does to the Brain – ABC – Radio National
- NPS go to consumer information to educate yourself on specific conditions and what the treatment options are. For example, managing osteoporosis, medicine and side effects, understanding blood pressure, chronic pain explained and much more…
Men's Reproductive Health
Andrology Australia report that, according to research, there is a strong link between your reproductive health and your general health. For example:
- Erectile dysfunction can be an early warning sign of heart disease and men with diabetes have a greater chance of having sexual or reproductive health problems than other men
- Often, seeing a doctor for a reproductive health problem can lead to getting help for other health issues
- Some men’s health issues are related to male hormones (testosterone) and ageing, such as osteoporosis
- Some reproductive health issues may not be serious health problems but may cause distress and effective treatments are available
- Men with chronic diseases like diabetes should talk to their doctors about sexual or reproductive health problems they might have
Whether you have a chronic disease or not, if something seems wrong with your reproductive system, it is important to see your doctor pronto – with most problems, getting help early on can avoid serious long-term problems.
Some common problems that you may experience include:
- Prostate disease: more common in the older male and can make urinating difficult. Treatment is available, often in the form of drugs or surgery
- Erectile dysfunction: commonly referred to as impotence and can happen as a result of another underlying health problem such as diabetes. There are not any specific treatments that will cure erectile dysfunction, but there are treatments that will allow erections to happen
- Androgen deficiency: is linked with low testosterone levels, which can play a part in feelings of low energy and easy fatigue, irritability and a reduced sex drive. Once the diagnosis of androgen deficiency is made, treatment can begin with a positive effect on quality of life
- Testicular cancer: often thought to be a young man’s disease, has a high survival rate if detected early. Self-examination of the testis should be encouraged for early detection
Remember, the most important thing you can do if you notice any health or reproductive changes is see your GP and tell him your concerns.
Information, Resources and References
- Newcastle Urology provide local information on different issues and treatments
- MATES examining the reproductive health of middle-aged and older Australian men.
- Click here to download resources and Fact Sheets from Andrology Australia. They provide quality and up-to-date information on a large range of male health issues. You can order a hard copy or download a PDF file.
- What Every Man Needs to Know – A user guide booklet
- Prostate Enlargement – A guide to urinary symptoms in men
- Andrology Australia provide a wealth of information and fact sheets including:
- Health Direct – Mens Health
Men Specific Incontinence
According to the Continence Foundation of Australia, incontinence is one of the biggest health issues, affecting one in four Australians over the age of 15 years. An estimated 30 per cent of men who visit the GP are affected by incontinence, yet more than two thirds do not discuss the issue. This is despite the fact that the majority of people can be cured or better managed.
Despite how you feel about your incontinence you should never feel ashamed, not matter what your age. Avoiding seeing your GP and getting help for any bladder/bowel changes just prolongs the issue. Better for you to take an opportunity to be cured than experience ongoing issues.
NB: Increased frequency and an urgent need to urinate can be causes by a UTI (bladder infection) and not everyone experiences symptoms such as pain or burning. A UTI caused by problems such as enlarged prostate or a kidney stone can lead to kidney damage if the problem is not corrected and the infection continues.
Good toileting habits can reduce instances of bladder infections and bladder/bowel incontinence.
- Wait until you get a strong urge before going to the toilet
- Don’t sit and wait to go – this means the urge is not strong enough
- Return only when the bowel action is about to happen
Good seated toilet posture is vital to allow your bowel to empty without straining. Straining is harmful and makes the pelvic floor muscles weak and can lead to leakage
- Knees higher than hips – tilt on toes (heel off floor) or use a book or a short stool
- Lean forward and put elbows on your knees
- Push out your belly
- Straighten your back
If you have had a recent hip operation, DO NOT USE this toilet position. Check first with your doctor.
Information, Resources and References
- Mercy Services provide a home delivery linen service in Newcastle, Lake Macquarie, Maitland and Cessnock. The service is for people who are fail aged and incontinent or FOR their carers who have difficulty maintaining a clean supply of linen. You can receive the service either through a CHSP or HCP – you will need to be referred via My Aged Care if you are not on an existing HCP. Cost $17.50 for two deliveries per week. New referrals, Ph: 1800 200 422.
- Health Professionals that can help
- Funding Schemes for continence products facts sheet
- The National Continence Helpline, Ph: 1800 33 00 66
- NSW Continence Promotion Centre
- Public Toilet Map
- Continence Foundation of Australia has a wealth of information on common problems that affect men such as:
Other Men's Health Resources
- Health Direct.gov.au – Mens Health
- 49.com.au. This is a fabulous site as you can search your age and it will provide all you need to think about in terms of health and wellbeing
- Men’s Health Australia provides a very extensive list of ‘men’s” specific services in NSW
- Men’s Heath South Australia
- Men’s Health Victoria
- Andrology Australia
- NSW Chronic Disease Management Program
- The Aged Care Nutrition Services Australia is an excellent resource to gain a better understanding about the importance of good nutrition and the consequences of malnutrition as we age
- Nutrition for Men
Please go to our ‘Your Health & Wellbeing‘ section for more information on Health Prevention and Management for the over 65’s. This section includes non-gender related health conditions you should be more aware of, such as; shingles, pressure injuries, dehydration and nutrition, just to name a few. You will also find useful tips on how to maintain a sense of wellbeing and keep socially active from now until your twilight years.
Go to our ‘Occupational Therapy‘ section for more information on how Shelly, our Private Community Aged Care Occupational Therapist, can help you as well as other useful tips to make life better for you at home.
If you need help at home to assist you, or your role as carer, please go the ‘Help at Home‘ Section of our site.