Empowering patients with persistent pain

Article written by Ross Clifford, Senior Lecturer in Physiotherapy and Versus Arthritis MSK Champion.

Webinar presented by Giles Hazan, Louise Warburton, Johan Holte, Ross Clifford.

Pain - “An unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with, or resembling that associated with, actual or potential tissue damage,” (IASP, 2020) and further includes:

  • Pain is always a personal experience.
  • Pain and nociception are different phenomena.
  • Individuals learn the concept of pain.
  • Personal experience of pain should be respected.

Chronic pain: NICE guideline DRAFT (August 2020) defines chronic pain as ‘pain that persists or recurs for more than 3 months’, and that chronic primary pain is chronic pain in one or more anatomical regions that is characterised by significant emotional distress or functional disability.

This webinar discussed the importance of a patient centred approach to supporting patients with chronic (persistent) pain. NHS England, supported by the Five Year Forward View, has made a commitment to become much better at involving patients (and their carers) by facilitating them to manage their own health and make informed decisions about their care and treatment. One way of doing this through Shared Decision Making (SDM) tools. SDM is suggested to be a partnership between patient and health professional where possible treatments are discussed in terms of potential risk and benefit, quality and length of life. Several policy drivers for SDM exist, including the NHS Long Term Plan, Universal Personalised Care, the Health and Social Care Act (2012) and the NHS Constitution (2015).

This webinar explores the relationship between people and the NHS, and whether patients can be supported to self-manage by accessing social or community events and groups.

Social prescribing is a means of enabling health professionals to connect people to a range of local, non-clinical, community activities for mental and physical health and wellbeing (NHS, 2019). Community activities may include exercise and physical activity (Royal Society for Public Health, 2019).

From persistent pain to parkrun – this talk explored the role of social forms of physical activity for supporting chronic pain.

'If physical activity were a drug, we would refer to it as a miracle cure, due to the great many illnesses it can prevent and help treat.' (UK Chief Medical Officers, 2019).

This talk recommends you know the CMO (2019) guidance for minimum recommended levels of physical activity for adults in England and take every opportunity to discuss this with patients.

To support you with these conversations there are resources available:

  • Moving Healthcare Professionals (Sport England and Public Health England) –help to support healthcare professionals in promoting physical activity to the public.
  • Physical Activity Clinical Champions physicalactivity@phe.gov.uk.

And as an example of how you could support your patients to become more physically active in a social context – parkrun:

  • A WHO exemplar initiative to ‘implement regular mass-participation …to provide free access to enjoyable and affordable, socially and culturally appropriate experiences of physical activity’ (Reece et al., 2018).
  • Become a parkrun Practice: >16% of practices are engaged with this RCGP initiative.

You can view the webinar on demand through the link here.