Multimodal approach recommended in managing chronic pain

Date Posted:23 June 2015 

Chronic pain affects one in five Australians and is thought to cost the economy $34 billion annually. By this calculation, it is Australia's third most costly health condition after cardiovascular diseases and musculoskeletal conditions (also associated with chronic pain).

In a recent press release, NPS Medicine Wise highlighted the need for chronic pain sufferers to opt for a multi-modal approach to managing their pain, instead of long-term opioid use.

A multi-modal approach means devising an individualised program that combines a range of treatment protocols and lifestyle adjustments, rather than one treatment alone. Many people following this approach will combine things like diet, exercises, mindfulness techniques, complementary medicine (such as physiotherapy or chiropractic) and non-pharmacological treatments such as low level laser therapy.

There is agreement among health professionals that by combining a range of treatments, particularly self-managed modalities, patients tend to feel empowered and more positive about what they can do.  Patients broaden the focus from reducing pain alone to achieving some functional improvement so they can get on with life, work or the hobbies they enjoy. This often leads to better long-term outcomes.

According to Dr Jeannie Yoo, NPS MedicineWise Clinical Adviser "managing chronic pain is challenging for both health professionals and their patients. Current evidence supports using a combination of different treatment modes to allow a more individualised approach.”

The recommendation comes amid the rising use of opioids to treat pain. The number of prescriptions for opioids is rising in Australia despite insufficient evidence to support their long-term efficacy. During the last decade there has been a 15-fold increase in opioids dispensed. Over the course of a year, 20 per cent of Australians over 45 years of age will be prescribed at least one opioid for either acute or chronic pain.

"The insufficient evidence for long-term use, and the issues of central sensitisation and tolerance which reduce the effectiveness of opioids over time, need to be taken into account when recommending these medicines," said Dr Yoo.

There are many non-pharmacological therapies such as low level laser therapy that reduce pain to a level that is easier to manage and tolerate.

The Handy Cure Laser is an affordable, portable home low level laser device can be used as part of a multi-modal approach. It has successfully helped many people relieve or reduce the severity of chronic pain while improving functionality.

If you are looking for a non-pharmacological treatment mode to relieve your pain, ask us about low level laser therapy. Chronic pain is often complex, so consult your health professional for advice.