Living with persistent pain can be hugely debilitating, both physically and mentally. Painaustralia, the nation’s pain management peak body, estimates that up to one in five Australians live with chronic pain, and 44 per cent of those will experience depression or anxiety as a result. Tragically, chronic pain has also been found to be a common contributing factor in many suicides.
To help spread the science of pain prevention and management to Australians living in rural communities, AIA Australia was again a proud sponsor of this year’s Pain Revolution’s Rural Outreach Tour, which travelled through regional Victoria for nine days raising funds and running events to explore effective methods for treating pain.
Chronic pain can affect a sufferer’s life to the extent that they become unable to complete simple, everyday tasks, impacting not only their health and happiness but creating financial strain, problems at work and pressures on households.
Considering how common chronic pain is, and how widely its affects can be felt, it can be surprising how overlooked the condition often is. Professor Lorimer Moseley, a clinical scientist investigating pain in humans, believes a large part of the problem is how pain is understood – or misunderstood – and that one of the ways we might remedy this is by changing how we think about it.
Professor Moseley founded Pain Revolution in 2017 with the goal of minimising the incidence and acuteness of Australians living with pain through education and awareness-raising. If we can start rethinking pain as our brains being overprotective of our bodies, says Moseley, we should be able to help those experiencing it to recover faster and more completely. But for this message to effect positive change it had to be shared.
Pain Revolution’s Rural Outreach Tour, sponsored by AIA Australia, is a capacity-building program that seeks to spread the science of pain prevention and management to Australians living in rural communities. Setting out in March, just weeks before the COVID-19 shut-down, the Rural Outreach Tour saw 30 Pain Educators travel from Geelong to Wangaratta, holding 21 seminars and workshops along the way for almost 1,000 people exploring effective methods for treating pain.
The tour also included 36 volunteer cyclists who, over the nine-day ride, raised more than $125,000 towards educating and supporting rural-based healthcare professionals to serve their communities and clinical colleagues with best practice pain education and care.
Creating a community of lived experience
Since first hitting the road in 2017, the Pain Revolution Rural Outreach Tour has travelled through regional Tasmania, New South Wales and South Australia, connecting with hundreds of thousands of people. This year alone their reach has extended to almost 410,000 people via events, radio and online methods of communication. In addition to the Rural Outreach Tour through Victoria, Pain Revolution also extended its reach into the virtual space, establishing an online Lived Experience Community of Practice for people living with persistent pain. A free service, the group meets each month via video conference, giving geographically-isolated people an opportunity to explore different pain education concepts, discuss best practice strategies, share their experiences and support one another on their individual journeys.
Coaching the pain away
For AIA Australia, sponsoring Pain Revolution is just one way we’re seeking to help Australians live healthier, longer, better lives. In 2019, AIA Australia introduced a telehealth pain coaching program to our group claimants with outstanding results. Where 80 per cent of participants reported being unable to achieve their daily tasks when they commenced the pain coaching program, that figure had dropped to 35 per cent by the time they’d completed it. Similarly, 70% of those who finished the program reported an improvement in their pain experience.