Empower Pain Management Program Outline

The cost of chronic pain

Chronic pain affects 3.24 million Australian’s and is defined as pain lasting longer than 3 months, which is considered beyond the expected time of healing.  This pain no longer serves the purpose of a warning signal.

Chronic pain is a chronic condition which often does not have a “cure”, but there is an ever-growing body of research which supports not only interventional pain management but a multidisciplinary approach to reducing the severity and suffering associated with chronic pain.

“The Brick Wall of Pain” (shown in the image below) is a metaphor for the multitude of associated issues that make up chronic pain.  These issues create even greater suffering and reduced quality of life in people living with pain.  These issues when viewed together, can be overwhelming and unconquerable.

Multidisciplinary pain management addresses each “brick” separately, creating better awareness and active self-management, leading to improved quality of life, reduced suffering, reduced medication reliance, improved functional capacity, improved work engagement and reduced reliance on healthcare.


What is the Empower Pain Management Program?

Empower is an evidence-based multidisciplinary 3 week intensive pain program based on current best practices and evidence bases.  This Pain Management Program aims to achieve the following goals through the use of an individualised cognitive-behavioural therapy based active self-management program:

  • To improve participants understanding of persistent pain
  • To promote changes to behaviour and thinking despite pain
  • To improve physical function and promote activities of daily living
  • To improve goal-setting, problem-solving and coping skills
  • To implement strategies where possible for return to work and addressing obstacles
  • To encourage the use of strategies including mindfulness and relaxation for managing persistent pain and enhancing “psychological flexibility”
  • To encourage stretching, hydrotherapy and exercise for ongoing persistent pain management
  • To reduce pain severity and the suffering associated with this
  • To address comorbidity and complications to participation and adjust the program where necessary


Empower Pain Management Program Content Overview

Although the underlying cause of chronic pain can not always be “cured” or “fixed”, there is an ever growing research base that has proven that active self-management strategies targeting the contributing factors can improve the long-term impact of chronic pain on quality of life, meaningful employment, healthcare utilisation, relationships and suffering.


Psychology Sessions

A total of 9 morning sessions (3.5hr) focusing on:

  • A thorough look at what chronic pain is and “The Brick Wall of Chronic Pain”
  • The role of cognitive behavioural therapy in treating chronic pain
  • How mood, fear and stress impact on chronic pain and practical ways to manage these
  • The role of automatic thoughts and strategies for managing these
  • Ways to challenge unhelpful thinking styles, including catastrophic thinking
  • Active coping strategies for managing chronic pain
  • Learning ways to proactively change the impact chronic pain takes on partners, families and relationships
  • Implementing strategies for planning, managing and learning from flares in pain
  • Implementing strategies for meaningful activities, including return to work or remaining at work.
  • A thorough understanding on the research supporting mind-body connection and neuroplasticity.


Physiotherapy Sessions

A total of 13 afternoon sessions (3.5hr) focusing on:

  • Understanding what chronic pain is, what fear avoidance patterns are, the effects of the cycle of pain and the boom/bust cycle of pain.
  • Understanding the fear-avoidance cycle and practical strategies for getting back to movement
  • Understanding the role of pacing with improving physical activity, reducing deconditioning, reducing flares in pain
  • Understanding the principles to endurance exercises, strengthening exercises, balance exercises and stretching exercises in living with and managing chronic pain
  • Understanding and implementing workplace ergonomics and manual handling principles
  • A thorough look at other forms of exercises including hydrotherapy, yoga, tai chi, pilates and dance
  • Understanding the role exercise plays on pain, mood, stress, anxiety, depression, weight and sleep


As part of the physiotherapy sessions there will be:

  • 7 (1hr) Individualised hydrotherapy at the Lane Cove Aquatics Centre run by our experienced pain physiotherapist
  • 2 (1hr) Yoga sessions run by an experienced Yoga instructor for disability and pain management
  • 5 (2hr) Individualised exercise sessions focused on endurance, strength, stretching, balance, pacing principles and goals
  • 6 introductory sessions to Tai Chi run by our experienced pain physiotherapist


Nursing Sessions

A total of 12 sessions (90mins) focusing on:

  • Understanding what sleep is, how to get better sleep through the principles of sleep hygiene and emerging research in sleep science
  • Understanding the role of nutrition on chronic pain, emerging research on the gut-brain axis and the principles of good nutrition
  • Understanding the role of wellbeing, the principles behind self-care, self-efficacy, self-esteem, the locus of control and how understanding yourself better (your values, meaning and purpose) can improve your quality of life
  • Tools for planning, setting goals and overcoming obstacles when living with chronic pain
  • Active self-management tools for finding resources and support


Medical Sessions

A total of 4 individualised sessions (90min) focusing on:

  • Understanding chronic pain and the role of treatment, multi-disciplinary pain management and medication
  • Understanding current best practices for medication prescribing, the role and side effects of medications
  • Understanding opioids and their short-term role in pain management
  • Emerging research on sleep, nutrition, medications and treatments
  • Frequently asked questions


As part of the medical sessions there will be an individual medical appointment looking at medication, treatment and individual participant issues.


Return to work sessions

  • 2 sessions on return to work with our clinical psychologist
  • 1 session with our vocational counsellor on navigating return to work or retraining
  • 2 sessions on manual handling and occupational safety with our pain physiotherapist

For more information

For further information about Empower Pain Management Program contact us and speak with our program coordinator.
T: 02 9439 6456
F: 02 9460 9230
E: admin@northernpaincentre.com.au
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