BRHS Opens New Pain Management Clinic

Physiotherapist Heath Tomasini is heading up BRHS’ new Pain Management Clinic. Photo: Jake Lynch/BRHS

 

KEY POINTS

  • BRHS has opened a multidisciplinary Pain Management Clinic for adults who have been suffering pain for more than 3 months.
  • Your GP can refer you.
  • The Pain Management Clinic recognises the holistic nature of pain, and includes a Physio, Pain Nurse, and an Occupational Therapist, with a focus on educating people how to manage their pain.
  • The Pain Management Clinic plans to offer medical and psychology services in the future.
  • For more information email pain.management@brhs.com.au, or call 5152 0206 or 5152 0207 and enquire about the Pain Management Clinic.

 

“I’ve had 20 years of pain,” Clare says. “20 years that something hurt, most days, to some degree. Some days it is better, and some days it is worse.”

Over those years, Clare has seen four different rheumatologists, four different cardiologists, an endocrinologist, three gastroenterologists and many GPs.

There have been more bone scans, VQ scans, MRI and CT scans, x-rays, ultrasounds, blood tests and specialist follow-ups than she can remember.

“One specialist often leads to another specialist,” Clare says.

Often these appointments are not in Bairnsdale, and so Clare has spent many hundreds of hours on the road in pursuit of some improvement to her quality of life.

While a number of ailments have been identified, including fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis and atrial fibrillation (an irregular heartrate), so far there has been no solution for the chronic and persistent pain.

“There’s this constant searching for what it is that is causing the pain,” Clare says. “That hasn’t been a real explanation – just trying to manage the pain with medication that reduces the inflammation.”

As is often the case, the origins of Clare’s pain are several and diverse, including her struggles with her weight, and traumatic events earlier in her life.

Ironically, the search for pain relief has brought its own set of health issues, not least of which is regular tests to ensure the strong medication is not causing damage to her liver, a problem that many pain sufferers encounter.

The broad, multi-faceted causes of her pain are part of the reason that a solution to it may be multi-faceted, too, not addressed by a single diagnosis or medication.

After so many years, and with a solution to her pain still not within reach, Clare says she is now working on being able to accept her situation for what it is.

Clare’s story is not unique.

It may be your story, too.

There are many people in our community suffering from chronic pain that, despite numerous attempts, have not been able to ease it.

“I’ve had pain as long as I can remember,” says Kelly. “But about three years ago it got much worse. It got so I was unable to work. It has changed my life. I’m very depressed, actually. It has shaken me to the core.”

Like Clare, Kelly’s search for help has led her to many specialists in all parts of the state, and a myriad of tests, scans and medications.

Also like Clare, her pain persists.

 

Taking back control

The experience of local people like Kelly and Clare is the motivation behind a new Pain Management Clinic was officially opened at Bairnsdale Regional Health Service this week, to provide people suffering from chronic pain with a multi-faceted, holistic approach to pain management.

Any adult that has been suffering from pain for more than 3 months can access the clinic, by referral from their GP.

The Pain Management Clinic includes a specialist Pain Nurse, a Physiotherapist and an Occupational Therapist, and includes a focus on education for clients on the causes of their pain and strategies for ongoing pain management.

“Amidst all the challenges of the past few months, it’s so exciting to be able to open something new, and expand our services for the community,” said BRHS CEO Robyn Hayles at the official opening at BRHS’ Ross Street Campus.

Hayles said the new Pain Management Clinic had been made possible by the funding support of the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services, which had funded the opening of 5 such pain clinics across Victoria.

“Chronic pain plays a debilitating role in the lives of people that suffer from it,” Hayles said. “And that is a large number of people. Approximately 20 percent of the population suffers from chronic pain, and that percentage is higher in places like East Gippsland, where we have a higher than average proportion of the community that are elderly, or that face social and economic disadvantages.”

“This new Pain Management Clinic will make a massive difference to many people in the community, and we are very pleased to be able to provide this service.”

Heading up BRHS’ Pain Management Clinic is Heath Tomasini, a Physiotherapist who has worked at pain management clinics in Melbourne and Geelong.

“I’ve seen countless people get better,” Heath said of his experiences at those pain management clinics. “By get better I mean get better at managing their pain. I’ve seen people who were barely able to leave the house to make it to the appointment, later be able to return to work, or return to sport or whatever it is that is important to them.”

“Being in pain can make people feel like they are out of control,” Heath said. “Our goal is to help people take that control back.”

There are hopes that a GP Anaesthetist and a Psychologist will be added to the Pain Management Clinic team in the near future.

BRHS’ Laurea Atkinson, who has spent the past several months laying the groundwork for the Pain Management Clinic, said that a big part of that research involved talking to people in the community suffering from chronic pain, to ask them what they needed.

“One of things they mentioned most was education,” Laurea said. “They want to understand what is happening to them. They feel that with some education they’ll be able to navigate the system better, and to be able to put some of the puzzle pieces together.”

Laurea said she also heard that local people suffering pain wanted to be able to meet and talk with others that were going through it, too.

“That can really help with those feelings of helplessness,” Laurea said. “To know you are not alone, and to be able to share stories and information with others in the same boat – that can be an important part of learning and regaining control.”

The BRHS Pain Management Clinic is now open and taking referrals from GPs.

If you think the Pain Management Clinic might be able to help you, talk to your GP.

If you’d like to know more, email pain.management@brhs.com.au, or call 5152 0207 or 5152 0206 and enquire about the Pain Management Clinic.