Pain Management Programs

How a Pain Management Program can help

A Pain Management Program (PMP) can help if you have an injury and experience pain that:

  • Affects your physical and mental health,
  • Affects your ability to do the things that are important to you,
  • Leads to you taking medicines that cloud your head and give you side effects.

The best time to do a PMP

In the past, people often waited until they had exhausted all their options before they tried a PMP. We now know that doing a PMP early in your recovery can get the best results.

Even so, if you have had your pain for years, a PMP can still give you the skills to manage your health and wellbeing.

What a PMP does

The aim of the PMP is to reduce the impact pain has on your life. It can involve doctors, physiotherapists, psychologists, nurses, occupational therapists or exercise physiologists. They work together and treat you as a whole person, not as a “neck problem” or “back problem” or “shoulder problem”.

The PMP team will meet with you and assess your pain. They will create a plan that is specific to you and help you set goals. They will also look at any practical ways to reduce the intensity of your pain.

The focus of a PMP is to support you to develop the skills you need to manage your health and wellbeing. The PMP will help put you in control and give you more options so that you don't need to rely on other people as much. TAC clients tell us that feeling in control of their pain management is a very important part of getting their life back on track.

There is work involved in a PMP and you need to be ready for that. Your PMP team are there to help and support you. Before you decide to do a PMP, ask the PMP team what to expect. It’s best not to do a PMP until you are ready to put in as much work as you expect from your PMP team.

How a PMP works

Each PMP is different, but in general, you can expect:

  • Some one-to-one sessions with the doctor, physiotherapist and psychologist,
  • Group sessions that include educational talks, practice of new skills and exercise sessions,
  • Opportunities to talk with other people who have pain,
  • No pressure to talk about personal matters in the group setting.

The individual and group session will include treatment and exercises designed for you.

What you can expect from a PMP

It’s important to be realistic about what to expect from your PMP. It is reasonable to hope that the intensity of your pain will be much less, but this doesn't usually happen.

Instead, many people find that their pain reduces by 10% to 20%. They are also able to reduce or stop taking their medication. They can do more things without feeling any extra pain.

TAC clients who have finished a PMP tell us that 3 months later they have improved further. They tell us that pain interferes much less with their life. Their feelings of depression, anxiety and stress have also reduced.[1]

How long your PMP will take

Each PMP is different, but most are between 8 and 12 weeks long and run on 2 days each week.

Situations that could mean a PMP is not right for you

A PMP may be difficult for you if:

  • You experience severe depression, anxiety or have a post-traumatic stress disorder,
  • You take high doses of some pain medications,
  • You feel uncomfortable in group settings,
  • You have limited English language skills or difficulty reading.

Talk to your TAC Coordinator, treater or the PMP team before you decide to do a PMP. There might be other solutions or alternatives available to you.

After you finish a PMP

It can take 3 to 6 months before you see the best benefits of your PMP. For this reason, it is very important that you practise the new skills you have learned. This includes the skills you will learn about managing flares of pain. Using your new skills will stop you from going backwards and help you to meet your goals over time.

Your PMP team will review you a couple of times after you finish your PMP. These reviews are a great opportunity to talk to your PMP team about how you are going.

You have a lot to gain and nothing to lose by trying out a PMP.

[1] Patient Outcomes in Pain Management. Network Provider report for the Transport Accident Commission and WorkSafe Victoria. 2018 Mid Year Report 1 July 2017 - 30 June 2018 (ePPOC)