Retrain the brain on pain

28 October, 2020

In October, the Northern Regional Network gained a better understanding of pain and ways to manage pain. It was an informative discussion with Claire (psychologist) and Trina (Team Leader) from GV Health's Chronic Pain Clinic complementing the knowledge and experiences of the Network members.

Chronic pain is complex. Chronic pain occurs due to changes to the nervous system which keeps the nerves firing and signalling pain, even though the initial injury is physically healed.

Claire and Trina explained that they are part of a multidisciplinary team that supports patients to live an improved quality of life with chronic pain. They have pain specialists who can help reduce medication use, as well as OT, physiotherapist, psychologist and dietitian. Telehealth is also an option for people who can't attend in person.

Claire, Trina and the group shared some of their pain management tips and strategies:

  • For most people, their emotional attachment to pain will affect how much pain they feel. For example, if your mood is happy, you won't feel as much pain as compared to if you're focused on it all the time.

  • It may be helpful to chat to a chronic pain clinic to help retrain the brain and look at pain from a different perspective. Take an active approach: look at smoking habits, activity level, your perception of pain (e.g. if pain is trauma or emotional related).

  • Medications can help but does not completely remove pain. Medications should be used in combination with other pain management strategies. For some members, medical cannabis help numbs their pain. Check out the Department of Health and Human Service's Medical Cannabis website for more information.
  • Be involved in hobbies (reading, hand cycling, travelling, social gatherings) and exercise to distract yourself from pain and put yourself in a good mental space. It allows the brain to release feel-good hormones to stop pain without the need for medications.

  • Focus on your strengths and what you can do, than to focus on what you can't do.

  • Pace yourself so you don't get tired easily and put yourself into pain. Use time (e.g. every 30 mins) as a guide to give yourself more breaks, than to stop when you feel pain. This can train your body to endure more pain over time.

  • For some members, medical cannabis help numbs their pain. Check out the Department of Health and Human Service's Medical Cannabis website for more information.

  • Learn about pain through online courses:

 What is pain? Professor Lorimer Moseley discusses his experience with pain

 Maquarie University Chronic pain management course (SCI) - Free, 8 weeks course, focuses on practical skills for managing pain, phone calls from clinician on progress. Many members have found it useful.

Spinal Cord Injury Pain  - written practical information on managing pain

 "Explain Pain" book by David Butler and G. Lorimer Moseley. Further information can be found at

Everyone agreed their pain experiences are unique, so there is no one size fits all solutions. It was an insightful discussion to hear each member's different attitudes, responses and experiences in pain management.

Details of our next event

Wednesday, 02 Dec 2020

02:00 PM

Zoom - online

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