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Meet our multidisciplinary chronic pain management team

Pictured: Tessa Heine, Dr Tony Weaver, Helen Wearne and Dr Murray Taverner.

Peninsula Health has expanded its chronic pain management team with a new Head of Unit, Dr Tony Weaver and Clinical Nurse Consultant, Helen Wearne.

“We’ve got to build on the very good services we have and we will be expanding our outpatient services,” says Dr Weaver, who is one week into the new job.

“I’m pleased to see Peninsula Health has put a significant amount of resources into improving pain and I’m really enjoying everything I’ve seen so far.”

Chronic Pain is pain that persists for longer than three months.  It is the second leading cause of disability and a global health burden.

24-30 July is National Pain Week. Peninsula Health’s multidisciplinary chronic pain team, which also includes Occupational Therapist Tessa Heine and Pain Physician Dr Murray Taverner, spoke about the services they provide at Peninsula Health’s Medicine Grand Round on 26 July.

Helen says there is a stigma associated with chronic pain.

“You’re often written off as being psychologically weak.”

“It creates a huge amount of stress in a family and some patients can be in danger of losing their job if they can’t work due to pain,” explains Helen.

Dr Murray Taverner has worked at Frankston Hospital for 25 years and specialises in persistent pain management.

He says pain is multi-dimensional.

“If you only treat one part of it you don’t get a good result.”

“Pain interventions can help some people, more so if you get them early before the pain has got the icing on the cake,” says Dr Taverner.

He says different disciplines need to work together to help patients reduce pain.

“We need to have multiple options for patients – a big multi-disciplinary toolbox.”

Dr Taverner shared the story of a patient who had chronic pain after a bike accident. He says when he dug deeper he found the patient’s life had fallen apart – his wife had left him, his father had a stroke and he was trying to run his business from his bedside. All of this stress was contributing to his pain.

Tessa Hein runs The Chronic Pain Management Service at Peninsula Health’s The Mornington Centre, which uses allied health techniques rather than medication, to reduce pain.

“The two-day a week clinic is staffed by a Physiotherapist, Occupational Therapist, Doctor, and Psychologist,” explains Tessa.

“The program empowers clients to take control of their life through mindfulness and cognitive behavioural therapy.”

People are asked to think about biological, psychosocial and social factors contributing to their pain – things they might not have thought of before.

“We introduce clients to goal-setting and pacing (knowing the right amount of activity to do, so there is no boom or bust),” says Tessa.

“We also teach them how to reduce the negative impact of thoughts and emotions on pain through relaxation and mindfulness.”

“We work as a team with the client to develop skills to help their pain and help them develop a more meaningful life.”

To access the chronic pain management service at Mornington, you need a referral from a health professional to ACCESS (fax 9784 2309). If you require specific information you can contact the service on 5976 9014.

For more information about chronic pain, head to http://www.nationalpainweek.org.au/


Jessica Mills