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Managing Pain: For Patients

Whist acute pain is usually short term and relatively easy to treat, chronic pain is far more complex and can be difficult to manage. The best approach to managing chronic pain is called a "biopsychosocial" approach which addresses the physical, psychological and environmental or social factors that influence the pain. This is achieved with a multidisciplinary (or interdisciplinary) pain management program. One of the most important elements of a multidisciplinary approach to pain management is the role of the patient. Patients who play an active role in self-management have less disability than those who look to medication or surgery alone – the passive treatments.


In a multidisciplinary approach, other therapies are used in place of, or in conjunction with, the passive treatments, to offer the best chance of regaining quality of life. Central to a multidisciplinary pain management program is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) where the patient learns to understand their pain, the factors that can trigger it and techniques to help minimise it, such as meditation, relaxation techniques, and positive thinking.


Patients also learn exercise techniques to help with postural issues and keep their body active and supple. Treatment may include physiotherapy, hydrotherapy, yoga and stretching exercises. Techniques such as Feldenkrais and the Alexander Technique can be very helpful for many people especially for musculoskeletal conditions associated with chronic pain. Acupuncture can also play a role.


To be successful at self-management, it is important to:
  1. Accept the pain. You need to accept that the pain is unlikely to disappear, but recognise that you can do things to mitigate its impact on your life, and reduce the severity of the pain.
  2. Pace yourself. You need to incorporate a sufficient amount of activity every day and keep it at an even level throughout the day, in order to keep the body conditioned, and avoid pain episodes sparked by overactivity.
  3. Retrain your brain. You need to realise that pain in itself is not harmful, and not to react to it in a negative way.

There are multidisciplinary pain management clinics in major centres across Australia. In order to attend a pain clinic, you will need a referral from your GP.  For your nearest pain clinic, reading materials, and other information about living with pain visit the Painaustralia website.

Recommended reading for consumers:
  • Fast Facts Chronic and Cancer Pain (Cousins and Gallagher) available at
  • Manage your Pain (Nicholas et al) available at all major bookstores
  • The Pain Book (Siddall et al) available at all major bookstores
  • Explain Pain (Butler and Moseley) available at

More information here



Managing Pain: For Healthcare Professionals

There are many resources for healthcare professionals who wish to learn more about the management of chronic pain. For primary care practitioners, a significant part of their day is concerned with pain management, and almost one in five GP consultations involve a patient with chronic pain. While medications play a useful role, a growing body of research confirms that treating chronic pain with medications alone does not produce the best health outcomes. Rather, best-practice care calls for a multidisciplinary (interdisciplinary) assessment and management which addresses at a minimum, physical, psychological, and environmental risk factors in each patient.


To find out more about best-practice pain assessment and management, download the following Painaustralia fact sheets (PDF files).


Recommended reading for health professionals:
  • Fast Facts Chronic and Cancer Pain (Cousins and Gallagher) available at
  • Manage your Pain (Nicholas et al) available at all major bookstores

Visit the Painaustralia website for more resources.


Education for Healthcare Professionals:

If you are interested in education and training through courses or webinars go to the Pain Management Research Institute's website or visit




Our mission is to improve the quality of life for the millions of people living with chronic pain, and to minimise the burden of pain on individuals and communities across Australia.


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