Pain is something most of us prefer not to think about. But with one in five Australians living with chronic pain, there is a significant chance that it will creep up on us sooner or later. For people over the age of 65 the prevalence of chronic pain rises to one in three.
People in rural and remote areas are 23 per cent more likely to have back pain. This rises to 30 per cent more likely for country people aged 55 to 64. Agriculture, mining, forestry and fishing have relatively high rates of injury, often leading to untreated pain since it is more difficult to get access to healthcare in the bush. One in five people with severe pain, not surprisingly, also develop depression.
The fact that fewer than 10 per cent of patients with chronic non-cancer pain can get access to effective care is not acceptable. The National Pain Strategy aims to get the issue of chronic pain on the agenda as a national health priority, to enable people suffering from pain to have access to the interdisciplinary care they need, and to increase research into the topic.
A new Fact Sheet ‘Chronic Pain – A Major Issue in Rural Australia’ has been jointly published by the National Rural Health Alliance (NRHA) and Painaustralia. It spells out the details about chronic pain in rural Australia. Painaustralia is a not-for-profit organisation established to improve the treatment and management of pain in Australia and dedicated to implementing the National Pain Strategy.
CEO of Painaustralia, Lesley Brydon, said, “There is very low awareness of chronic pain and best practice pain management in the community and among health professionals. It can have a major impact on people’s capacity to work and their quality of life. We are pleased to work with the NRHA to highlight the extent of the issue in rural Australia and to draw attention to the need for pain to be recognised as a national health priority.”
Gordon Gregory, Executive Director of the NRHA, said that the management of pain is yet another matter on which there are equity issues as between city and country people.
The Fact Sheet is at www.ruralhealth.org.au (See Publications/Fact Sheets).
Gordon Gregory – Executive Director, NRHA: 02 6285 4660
Lesley Brydon – CEO Painaustralia: 02 9130 6086, 0413 990 991