Pain management toolkit

Pain can be very confusing. The worry and stress of trying to find solutions can increase chronic pain. The more we understand pain, the more hopeful we become about our ability to change the pain we experience.

To understand how a pain management specialist – like those at Brisbane Private Hospital’s Pain Medicine Services – help people living with chronic pain, it’s helpful to know a bit more about how pain can be managed.

How medications impact pain

Managing chronic pain is an ongoing process and successful strategies will involve multiple different strategies. Medication may be one part of a care plan for chronic pain, but they should never be the only solution. While medication can be a helpful tool for managing pain, they can also carry significant risks. Discuss the benefits and risks of different types of medications with your pain specialist to get a full understanding of which medications may be right for you.

How understanding medications can help

Understanding the risks and benefits of medications you may be taking can help you set realistic expectations for managing your pain. Some important considerations to discuss with your Doctor include:

  • "Is this a medication I take every day, or do I take it as needed?”
  • “Can this medication be taken for a long time (chronically), or is this to be taken on a short-term basis (acutely)?”
  • “Will this medication affect my ability to drive, work, take care of my children, or any other activity that is essential to my day-to-day life?”
  • “Can I stop this medication whenever I want, or will I need your help to come off it?”
  • “Are there any significant side effects I should know about?”

How pain and activity work together

When we move less and less, our brain becomes accustomed to that decrease in activity. As our brain learns pain, more and more activity become connected with the pain response even when we are doing things that aren’t harmful.

How activity can make things better

Gradually increasing activity helps our brain rewire itself so that we can move more easily. It’s normal to have some pain or discomfort as you get moving again. You may be a little sore, but you are safe. Over time, you will become more active and healthier, and your pain will likely improve.

How pain and mood work together

Pain and mood are closely linked. Pain can make you feel stressed, down, and worried. You may feel isolated or alone. These things can make pain worse. With some guidance and practice, you can make small changes that will gradually lift your mood and improve your pain over time.

How to help with stress

Stress has a direct impact on our bodies. When we reduce our stress response, we release the body’s natural chemicals that calm the brain and body and decrease pain. When we slow our breathing and relax our muscles, we slow our heart rate and reduce the stress response, which decreases our pain.

How pain and sleep work together

Poor sleep can increase pain, lower our ability to fight infection, and increase inflammation. Restful sleep can help decrease chronic pain and improve our mood, which helps us feel more energised, active, and social. Good sleep can also reduce our cravings for unhealthy foods.

How sleep can make things better

Sleep often improves over time when we change our sleep habits, create a restful environment, and reduce our stress. Good quality sleep improves our health and can boost our immune system.

How pain is impacted by our social connections

When people live with pain, they can become isolated. Isolation can amplify pain in the brain. When people are not socially connected, they tend to do less and focus more on pain.

How social connections can help

We can begin to rewire the brain and reduce pain by changing a few habits. Connecting with others helps us be more active, happier, and focused on what matters to us. We can then decide what activities make the most sense to each of us.

Nutrition, stress, and pain are directly related

When our brain and body are stressed, we do not digest food very well, even with a healthy diet. This can cause diarrhoea or constipation and add to pain. Good nutrition will improve our gut health and change our experience with pain.

A healthy lifestyle helps your pain

When we make healthy food choices, prepare food at home, and eat with friends and family in a relaxed environment, many of our digestion problems are likely to improve. Restful sleep, regular activity, and a good social life can also help.

Can a nerve ablation help pain?

Nerve ablation is a minimally invasive procedure that can help and complement the holistic approach to pain management. Nerve fibres are responsible for carrying pain signals from inflamed or injured joints to our brain. Nerve ablation uses radio waves to destroy specific nerves to alleviate chronic pain. Most commonly, nerve ablation is used to treat pain associated with the joints of the spine, also known as facet joints. Facet joints are small joints located between the vertebrae of the spine and are responsible for allowing movement and stability in our spine.

The benefits of nerve ablation

First and foremost, a nerve ablation can provide significant pain relief for patients suffering from chronic pain associated with the facet joints. Nerve ablation can improve their quality of life and allow them to engage in activities that they may have previously avoided due to pain, such as exercising.

Additionally, nerve ablation is a minimally invasive procedure that does not require a lengthy hospital stay or recovery period. This can be appealing to patients who are looking to get back to doing valued activities sooner.

How long do the nerve ablation last?

It is important to note that nerve ablation is not a permanent solution to chronic pain. While the procedure can provide significant pain relief for several months to a year or more, the destroyed nerves will eventually regenerate, and, as a result, the pain may return. Hence, the importance of engaging in an active physical therapy program following the ablation is to have the maximum benefit. 

For further clarity on any of the above information or options for treatment,
please talk to our pain specialists by calling 07 3180 4400.



Dr. Poshitha de Silva

Specialist Pain Medicine Physician


Dr De Silva believes in holistic integrated patient care and utilises multidisciplinary, multimodal and interventional approaches for management of pain.

His special interest areas include management of:

  • low back pain,
  • neuropathic pain,
  • complex regional pain syndrome,
  • fibromyalgia, and
  • persistent post-surgical pain.

P 07 3180 4400
F 07 3345 5996

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