Self-management key to chronic pain

Chronic pain (CP) is a debilitating condition that can leave sufferers feeling hopeless and depressed.

Chronic pain (CP) is a debilitating condition that can leave sufferers feeling hopeless and depressed, but one group in Victoria is working to bring some measure of relief for the condition by teaching sufferers how to help themselves.

Mark Davies, senior coordinator of self-management programs for Self-Management B.C., said part of the solution lies in helping those with the condition to understand what they can do to help themselves survive and address some of the root causes of their condition.

The chronic pain self-management program is a community initiative designed to help people live successfully with chronic pain. An initiative supported by the University of Victoria’s Institute on Aging and Lifelong Health and the provincial government, the program is led by trained leaders who complete a four-day workshop prior to leading their own sessions in the community.

“We especially like to train individuals who have been there and know what the subjects in their sessions are experiencing,” said Davies. “It’s much better if they have walked the walk.”

The trained leaders go out to the community where they deliver the program to groups of 12 to 16 people, once a week for six consecutive weeks, with each session lasting about two-and-a-half hours. Participants are given a program book and a CD entitled the “Moving Easy Program” which provides a set of easy to follow exercises they can perform in the comfort of their own home.

“It’s important to understand that there’s no one cause of chronic pain. In fact the problem is there’s such a wide range of causes that no single approach is going to be effective for everyone,” said Davies, adding that pain can come about as a result of diseases like arthritis, cancer, diabetes, crohns disease, migraines, or a host of other illnesses. Sufferers may also be experiencing pain as a result of post operative complications or other causes like car accidents or sports injuries.

“Regardless of the cause, there are things you can do to help alleviate some of that pain and it could be as simple as changing diet and getting more exercise. For example, one major cause of chronic pain is type two diabetes and we know that diet and exercise can go a long way to alleviating the symptoms and progression of that disease. In other cases what’s needed are strategies for stress management, and psychological strategies. In any case, these are evidence-based approaches and we know they can work,” said Davies.

“Naturally the health care system is an important part of dealing with CP, but it’s just as important that people do what they can to help themselves.”

The next program in Victoria will take place at the Cook Street Activity Centre on Feb. 4 at 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. To register visit selfmanagementbc.ca or call 1- 866-902-3767.