One in five people suffer chronic pain – pain that’s experienced on a daily basis in excess of three to six months -- and one in 10 will report that pain is interfering with their lives, which means it might be affecting their ability to work, says Ms Wales.
Also, research shows that the chemistry of stress can make the experience of pain from an injury worse, paving the way for the likelihood of chronic pain.
“We know that people stop going to work because of pain and are less effective at work,” she says.
Research shows that Australia loses five billion dollars every year in reduced work productivity due to chronic pain in workers -- a big number given the ageing workforce and skills shortage
People aged between 35 and 55 years can have two or more chronic conditions. When they suffer an injury, the problem becomes complex.
“Managing that pain is really important and retaining those workers is critical because as a nation, we need those numbers in our work force.”
Ms Wales will be speaking at the Annual National Workers Compensation Conference on 23-26 February 2009 in Melbourne.
She will talk about how minor soft tissue injuries can lead to chronic pain and how clinicians and workers will benefit from an understanding of the physiology of chronic pain and how to deal with it.
She will also discuss the need to improve the level of control workers with chronic pain have over their lives.
“That means bringing them into the process and not excluding them from the process of planning in rehabilitation,”
“I’ll be touching on the fact that we can produce a circle around injured workers which makes them the leader, rather than the follower…and when we do that it really works, reducing a lot of the game playing that goes on in rehabilitation.”
Ms Wales says research shows the community can play a key role in workers getting back to a position of trusting after possibly years of feeling they haven’t had control because they haven’t trusted what has been going on in their lives in trying to manage pain.
The importance of community is the reason why Chronic Pain Australia exists.
“We’ve developed an organisation which is made up of volunteer consumers of pain management services, just ordinary people who have been through the experience and who have now become a model for other people, and it helps people trust the process of learning how to manage their pain,” she says.
Other speakers attending the conference include Martin Dolan, Chief Executive Officer for Comcare; Jarrod Moran, Workers Compensation Officer for Australian Council of Trade Unions; Dr Peter Tuchin, Senior Lecturer at Macquarie University; Craig Bosworth, Public & Industry Affairs Manager for Medibank Private; and Dr Angelica Vecchio-Sadus, HSE & Site Operations Manager at CSIRO Minerals.
To arrange a media pass, request more information or arrange speaker interviews please contact: Nigel Dique
Informa-IIR 02 9080 4108; 0423 024 819; nigel.dique@
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