Health professionals put foot to pedal to tackle persistent pain

HEALTH experts from around the country converged in Tasmania in March to raise funds and awareness for people with persistent pain in the seven-day Pain Revolution Rural Outreach Tour.

Starting at Devonport and finishing in Hobart, the riders cycled 700 kilometres visiting rural communities to deliver 19 free events for health professionals and the public to educate them about improved persistent pain management.

The tour was part of Pain Revolution, which educator and clinician professor Lorimer Moseley said was a grassroots campaign to tackle Australia’s most burdensome health problem.

“One in five Australian’s quality of life is reduced because of persistent pain, and it’s a bigger burden economically to us than cancer and diabetes combined, yet it’s been very difficult to change the way pain is managed and there’s a lot of reasons for that,” he said.

“What we’re doing is trying to embed the capacity in rural and regional Australia to prevent this persistent pain from returning in the first place and then to deliver the best practice and care.”

Along with providing valuable resources for rural health professionals and the public, Mr Moseley said the tour also raised funds for Pain Revolution’s Local Pain Educator program – a capacity and community building program that trains and supports rurally-based health professionals to provide the best education locally.

“Our vision is that every Australian has access to contemporary pain education and care locally, so it’s in their community,” he said.

The event has been running for three years, but this was the first time it was held in Tasmania.

“It’s been a transformative week for me personally – you come across some amazing stories,” Mr Moseley said.

“We’ve had packed houses for both public and professional events – we had 300 in Launceston and a total of 450 across the two seminars in Hobart.

“This shows the desperate need in the community because Tasmania has a really interesting situation where outside of Hobart there are really no specialist pain centres.

“We’re getting attention, we’re raising money and we’re kicking off the Tasmanian chapter or journey in the Local Pain Education space.”

Hobart-based exercise physiologist Brenton Watson, who participated in the ride, said it was great to see the tour focus on educating rural areas.

“In rural areas people don’t have access to quality healthcare and don’t have access to the resources and education that people would have in major cities,” he said.

“It’s good to see a smaller sort of community like Tasmania get access to high quality information, and all the resources with the Local Pain Educator program will be really beneficial to the community in the long-term.

“There was a really good response from the community and professionals in the area, and a lot of the members of the public came up to us with great questions – hopefully we’ve been able to provide them with support.”

Mr Watson said the ride was for a very worthy cause.

“Our main message is while we can suffer on the bike, it’s really nothing compared to what people living with persistent pain do for years and years,” he said.

Mr Moseley said they tackled Mount Wellington as a peloton.

“This metaphorically captures so much about persistent pain – about how you need to be patient and persistent and have a good coach and courage – there’s no contemporary approaches to these things,” he said.

“The critical difference is I know I can stop and the pain will go away, but there are literally millions of Australians who don’t know that, they don’t know why they’re hurting, their pain is crippling their lives.”

Pain Revolution is a not-for-profit organisation.

For more information, visit www.painrevolution.org.

Caption: Australian health experts participated in the seven-day Pain Revolution Rural Outreach Tour to raise funds and awareness for people with persistent pain.

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