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MSWA Bulletin Magazine Spring 2021

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What is assistive technology and how can it help you? | Good health monitoring practices | Pain and pain management series: Part 2 | Farewell Marcus Stafford

PAIN & PAIN MANAGEMENT

PAIN & PAIN MANAGEMENT SERIES Welcome to the second instalment in our series of articles on pain and pain management. Below, MSWA Counsellor Lisa Papas and Neurological Liaison Nurse Bronwyn Innes, who has a speciality background in pain management, give an overview of strategies for chronic pain management. Future editions will explore some of these strategies in greater detail. CHRONIC PAIN MANAGEMENT STRATEGIES In scientific literature there is no definitive cure for most chronic pain conditions. The aim of treatment is to manage pain so that physical and emotional functioning is restored and overall quality of life improved. While medications such as codeine or other opioids are sometimes prescribed for chronic pain, research has shown they are not effective in the long term. Non-pharmacological ways to manage your pain include: 1. Psychological approaches such as: / Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) or other forms of psychotherapy through a qualified therapist can help to solidify techniques for pain relief. / Daily relaxation techniques - Guided imagery meditations can help shift attention from pain. - Use deep breathing techniques that provide relief, focus and distraction from pain. - Music as relaxation: sound and rhythm have proven benefits for soothing and distracting when in pain. / Practicing Mindfulness - Meditation. - Focused breathing. - Acceptance as a technique for coming to terms with pain. / Learning desensitisation. / Using distraction. / Finding support. Seek out qualified psychological therapists to work with you through these various modalities. 2. Physical therapies such as: / Daily stretching and walking. / Pacing activities throughout the day. / Gentle exercise. / Hydrotherapy. / TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulator). / Superficial heat and cold. 3. Complementary and alternative therapies such as acupuncture, massage and other supplements can also provide relief. 4. Eating a healthy diet and improving sleep also contribute to wellbeing and overall quality of life. Evidence shows that people who are actively involved in managing their chronic pain on a daily basis have less disability than those who rely on passive therapies such as medication or surgery. Chronic pain is a complex experience which is influenced by physical, psychological and social factors. As such, the best way to manage it is to address all the factors affecting your pain. It is important to try to keep a positive attitude until you find a plan that works for you. In our next article, we will expand on the psychological approaches to pain management. LISA PAPAS MSWA COUNSELLOR BRONWYN INNES MSWA NEUROLOGICAL LIAISON NURSE 16

COUNSELLING CONNECTING WITH NATURE It was a long, wet winter and many of us are feeling the effects of a lack of sunlight and being ‘stuck inside’. The effects of seasonal affective disorder (SAD) have been well documented, where the lack of getting outside and the impact of low vitamin D impacts our mental and physical health. I have written before about the benefits of animals on your mental and physical health. I am now inviting you to expand this, to incorporate the natural world. The medical profession is beginning to recognise the benefits of connecting with nature. Treatment rooms and waiting rooms are displaying images of nature on the walls, incorporating sounds of nature (such as water and birds) and going as far as providing subtle scents of nature, which has increased positive outcomes for patients. Humans have an innate appreciation of close contact with nature, which is believed to have derived from the living conditions under which humans evolved. In other words, the need to connect with nature is in our DNA. The value and importance of our connection to nature is nothing new as historically many cultures have included aspects of nature and the use of medicinal plants into their wellbeing and health practices. However, there is now clear scientifically researched evidence for the beneficial effects of exposure to nature and green environments and the resulting feelings of wellbeing this can produce. There are many ways to get outside – gardening is a popular pastime for many. In fact, scientists have suggested that a type of friendly bacteria found in soil may affect the brain in a similar way to antidepressants! I would not suggest eating dirt, however getting your hands and feet into the soil is a great way to increase exposure and activate those chemicals in your brain that improve your mental and physical health. Alternatively, going for a walk or ride in the bush or park, going to the beach, or even a picnic outdoors are a few of the many ways you can connect with the natural world. If getting physical outside is beyond your capabilities maybe try sitting outside with a book or just sitting mindfully, while engaging fully with the sights, sounds, smells, and textures that surround you. So, venture forth into the ‘great outdoors’ in whatever way you can. Your physical and mental health will thank you for it. For those of you who would like to investigate this subject further there is a document online called ‘Beyond Blue to Green’ which is an Australian paper developed by Beyond Blue and the Deakin University. KAREN BROWN MSWA COUNSELLOR 17