Pain Management

A Bio-Psycho-Social Approach to Persistent Pain

The most effective way to deal with the problem of persistent pain is adopt what is termed a “bio-psycho-social” approach to the problem. This is true whether your persistent pain has a resulted from an injury at home or an accident at work or a slowly progressing chronic illness. Taking a bio-psycho-social approach means recognising that getting better will involve not just medical investigations, medications and hands-on physical treatment but also the importance of boosting psychological and social wellbeing in order to progress along the recovery pathway. At IOH we offer an integrated approach, providing both education about pain and supportive strategies that enable you to manage pain, in order to reclaim an active and rewarding life.

Education about Pain

In the last ten years, scientists have discovered more about the mechanisms that initiate and maintain persistent pain than they had learned in the previous thousand years! This scientific information can be understood by people from all walks of life, whether or not they are usually interested in science. Understanding what is likely to make pain better or worse and the biological reasons why this is the case, is fundamental for anyone who wants to maximise their recovery. Up to date education means power to make better decisions about how to work most productively with pain.

Strategies to boost resilience and manage distress

Around 25% of Australians who have suffered a musculo-skeletal injury also have a diagnosed depressive illness, anxiety disorder of substance use disorder. This is not too surprising- what affects the body influences the brain and the opposite is also true. There is no doubt that living with pain is stressful, no matter who you are or what your background. We seek to understand the factors that have shaped each person’s unique psychological response to the problem of pain and to provide coping strategies that assist with both emotional and physical recovery.
When a person who has persistent pain learns how to gradually get active without triggering significant pain increases, their quality of life can substantially improve. Learning strategies to settle symptoms of anxiety or depression can also help with physical recovery.
Most of the psychological strategies are based on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy or Mindfulness treatment models. Both of models are evidence-based interventions.

Working with the brain, to help the body

One of the most promising recent advances in the rehabilitation of persistent pain is the discovery that the brain is actively involved in the pain experience. This is true of all pains in all people, everywhere and it is of particular relevance to the persistent pain sufferer.
Each person’s brain maintains and regularly refreshes a map of their body. In persistent pain states, we now know (through functional MRI and other technologies) that brain representations of the body can shift and change in ways that are either detract from or support recovery. This discovery has led to the development of a treatment regime called Graded Motor Imagery (GMI). GMI is a treatment process which targets the brain’s representation of the previously injured body part. Through a series of “brain exercises” which are carried out both within and between treatment sessions, the brain gradually begins to accommodate movements which were previously not possible due to the impact of pain. More about GMI

Doing Life

Many people who live with persistent pain find that the time and effort it takes to get through the treatment and rehabilitation processes, leaves them feeling that the aspects of life that they value most, seem to be perpetually “on hold”. However the physical and psychological benefits of moving forward with “life”, while treatment and rehab take their course, cannot be over-estimated. Our work together involves designing a strategy for getting back to an everyday life that works, using effective strategies.

Collaborative partnerships

The hard work of recovering from persistent pain is easier when you have the support of a team of dedicated health professionals. We work together with you, your doctors, and physiotherapist or exercise therapist and rehabilitation professionals, recognising the unique contributions of each professional in supporting your recovery.

How to access IOH Psychology Pain Management services

Services can be accessed under WorkCover; Medicare, CTP or Private Health with a referral form your general practitioner or specialist.Counseling and treatment are provided on an individual basis, in consultation with your health team.