Chronic pain

What is chronic pain?

Chronic pain, or persistent pain, is relatively common, with one in five Australians living with chronic pain, including adolescents and children. Chronic pain relates to pain that persists for more than three months.

Chronic pain is related to both external and internal stimuli, which are also then regulated by other sensory inputs, and cognitive, emotional and social factors.  For people who have chronic pain, it can be debilitating, and effect their ability to work, sleep and maintain relationships. It can also increase your risk of developing comorbidities such as depression, sleep disturbance and fatigue.

Signs and symptoms of chronic pain

Chronic pain has many associated signs and symptoms, and also has many secondary health implications including: 

  • Joint pain
  • Muscle aches
  • Burning pain
  • Fatigue
  • Sleep problems
  • Difficulty maintaining focus
  • Lack of energy and stamina
  • Decreased activity
  • Decreased quality of life
  • Mental health issues.

Managing chronic pain

Chronic pain management involves a variety of components including both psychological and physical elements, some of which involve specific exercise prescription and graded motor imagery. The important thing to remember is that pain is not indicative of damage; some pain may be present during treatment and this may be necessary to help reprogram an overprotective system. In the case of chronic pain our current understanding is that the pain signal does not match the physical trauma.

Some key strategies: 

  • Find an empathetic and assertive health professional to help you
  • Education and understanding your pain can help with recovery 
  • Understanding that pain during or after treatment can be just a protective strategy of an overprotective system
  • Ensure your health care team is working together to ensure you have a multidisciplinary approach, with a focus on medical, physical, and psychological assistance.

Where to get help 

If you’re a current or ex-serving Defence Force member and are experiencing chronic pain, reach out to Mates4Mates on 1300 4 MATES (62 837) for a confidential chat about our service options.

Alternatively, talk to a trusted General Practitioner or Exercise Physiologist about your health concerns.

Other helpful resources