Local people attending a Pain Management Programme (PMP) at Ryelands House Clinic in Lancaster have fed back that the four-week programme has given them more confidence and the tools to manage their conditions.
The Bay Health and Care Partners (BHCP) programme is being led by pain management and physiotherapy teams at University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust (UHMBT) and supported by the BHCP Integrated Musculoskeletal (iMSK) Service, local GPs and Integrated Care Communities.
The programme is designed for people who suffer from chronic pain. Those referred onto the programme suffer from conditions including back pain, Fibromyalgia Syndrome, phantom limb pain, post-surgical scar pain and Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome.
PMP offers people advice on:
- understanding pain
- pacing and activity
- looking at lifestyle factors that affect pain including stress, diet and sleep
- breathing and relaxation techniques
- reconditioning exercises
- understanding flare-ups
- psychological support to manage pain
The PMP programme included a talk from Mark Mellar who suffers from chronic pain of the leg following a serious motorbike accident in February 2015.
Feedback from people taking part:
- Laurence Griffin, of Morecambe, said: “I have found the mindfulness really helpful and I will definitely use that in the future. The physiotherapy section was fantastic with the physiotherapist explaining how information goes around the body and how we can identify the different pain zones. I want to thank everyone who has led the sessions and would recommend to others.”
- James Page, of Lancaster, said: “I have found the course quite powerful and thought-provoking, listening to what others have gone through and what they have achieved. The mindfulness and breathing techniques have been very beneficial.”
PMP aims to provide greater support in the community for people with chronic pain to reduce the need for them to attend hospital and attend GP appointments. Before the COVID pandemic, the Royal Lancaster Infirmary (RLI) and Furness General Hospital (FGH) saw around 400 patients with fibromyalgia every year and between January and May 2019, there were more than 100 non-referrals and patients admitted to the RLI and FGH with acute back pain. The Chronic Pain service saw a reduction in referrals during the pandemic which reflected the general reduction especially when GP services were restricted. The current rate of referrals has returned to 80% of pre-COVID levels which is also similar to other referrals to hospital specialists.
In Autumn 2020, pilot sessions took place at Castle Street Community Centre, Kendal, before the tier restrictions/local lockdowns were brought in by the government. They were held over four weeks with a small group of two patients (following the government’s guidance on distancing for COVID-19). During lockdown, the team has had regular telephone reviews with patients on waiting lists for PMP and the 1-1 self-management programme for people with chronic pain who require 1-1 support.
Dr Mathias Tautz, Consultant in Pain Management, UHMBT, said: “During the further course of their long-term pain condition many patients discover the limitations of treatments such as injections or pharmacotherapy. They, of course, also notice the effect that their condition has on mental health and relationships at home and outside such as in the workplace or with friends. This course is specifically designed to offer additional and alternative ways to manage chronic pain in order to become more independent from doctors and healthcare in general. With this course, we see ourselves as partners on the road to recovery.”
Matt Hollows, Advanced Pain Physiotherapist, UHMBT, said: “Living with chronic pain can lead to a ‘negative cycle’ of becoming less physically active, which in turn can lead to physical deconditioning, reduced general health and increasing disability. The PMP is a great opportunity for health care professionals and patients to work together collaboratively to develop strategies that can give patients the understanding and tools required to build more healthful, positive cycles.”
Pam Brier, Pain Management Practitioner, UHMBT, said: “The aims of both our group PMP and 1-1 self-management sessions are to offer alternative methods to those of traditional chronic pain management treatments such as injection therapy and analgesia, by providing patients with the right self-care tools to manage their pain effectively. This includes lifestyle changes, education, activities and thinking about their pain and how they can manage it better.
“Through PMP the Bay Health and Care Partners are offering a multi-disciplinary approach where patients are receiving medical, physiological and physical support all in one place. By providing these sessions in the community we are reducing unnecessary GP and hospital appointments for many patients (who don’t have other underlying health issues or who need further investigations).”
John Butterworth, Integrated Care Manager, said: ''There's no doubt that these chronic pain management programmes can have extremely good outcomes and are generally very popular with both the participants and their GPs. The challenge now is to work with the different teams to establish regular sessions amidst all the other current priorities that the pandemic has brought.”