Pain free and drug free

Associate Professor James McAuley, says the Australian Government’s Therapeutic Goods Administration’s rescheduling of over the counter opioids is a positive step in curbing opioid addiction, but it is now more important than ever for clinicians and patients to be aware of opioid-free treatment options for chronic pain.

“Drugs are a great solution to pain for the first one to two days but when pain persists patients need to consider better long-term solutions,” said Associate Professor McAuley. “With the restricted access to opioids, this is a good moment for all people to rethink how they manage their pain.”

Chronic low back pain is the leading cause of disability in Australia and will develop in 40 per cent of people who experience an episode of low back pain. Research at NeuRA is focused on developing non-drug alternatives to opioids.

“There are many ways people can improve their pain on their own,” says Associate Professor McAuley.

“We’re currently working with the community to deliver pain education and information on self-managing low back pain in a series of public seminars.”

By empowering the public with information on pain and self- management, the team is helping people to avoid seeking treatments which may be costly, ineffective or have dangerous side-effects.

To help Australians self-assess and self-manage their pain, the team are currently developing more effective ways to communicate this information.

The MyBack application being developed by NeuRA will deliver targeted advice on back pain to people in their pocket.

In another project funded through the Sydney Partnership in Health, Education, Research and Enterprise (SPHERE), researchers have partnered with global advertising agency Y+R to develop, deliver, and evaluate an online campaign to reach all Australians.

“We want Australians to know their pain better, and to be able to self-assess whether their pain is likely to become chronic,” says Associate Professor McAuley.

“What we’ve seen is highly effective online awareness campaigns which are able
to change people’s ways of thinking about their chronic health conditions and empower them with the information they need to better understand their experience and to know when they should seek professional help.”

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