National Pain Week (25 July – 31 July) is dedicated to raising awareness about chronic pain and reducing the social stigma associated with it.
Chronic pain is pain that lasts longer than three months or exceeds the normal healing period. Chronic pain may be a symptom of an illness, an injury, or both, but it can also exist without a clear cause. It is a condition that can be debilitating, and can cause people to feel isolated and disempowered by their pain.
More than 3.6 million Australians suffer from chronic pain.
This year’s theme ‘Living well with pain’ encourages individuals who are living with chronic pain to remain strong and resilient.
We spoke with Peninsula Health Persistent Pain management program participant Dale-Allison Newman about overcoming the challenges of living with chronic pain.
Prior to suffering from chronic pain, Dale-Allison found happiness through dancing. But at 58 she began to experience back pain, irritable bowel syndrome, and mental health problems, affecting her daily life and preventing her from following her passion for dancing.
With the assistance of Peninsula Health’s Persistent Pain Management Service, Dale-Allison was able to reach a turning point in her life.
“Before turning to Peninsula Health, I thought I would end up a cripple due to my back pain,” she said.
“Being able to meet other people with persistent pain was wonderful. I felt a shared understanding with their experiences.”
“What assisted me was the way there was no judgement. I felt believed and understood.”
With the support of Peninsula Health, Dale-Allison was able to overcome obstacles associated with her condition and change her perspective about them.
“The pain management course I did with Peninsula Health enabled me to live a more fulfilling life and achieve my goals,” she said.
“Being supported by a team of compassionate healthcare workers who were passionate about persistent pain really acted as a catalyst for change for me.”
While Dale-Allison has not been able to return to dancing, she has found new sources of happiness through the pain management course at Peninsula health and has learnt to live well with pain.
“I now live well with pain and my pain has improved, in particular my back pain and mental health,” she said.
“I feel a newfound positivity, which has allowed me to create new goals.”
Dale-Allison has even taken up singing in a band.
“I no longer see myself or my life through the lens of persistent pain, I now have more optimism and resilience,” she said.
“I now have methods of dealing with flare-ups.”
Throughout this week, we encourage people to connect with their bodies, acknowledge their pain and seek support and advice from others rather than ignoring and suffering in silence.