Pain Press

December 2019

Hello and welcome to Pain Press, the monthly e-newsletter from Pain Concern, the charity working to support and inform people living with pain and those who care for them, whether family, friends or healthcare professionals.

Merry Chrismas and a Happy New Year from everybody here at Pain Concern.


We are working hard to continue raising awareness for people living with pain and look forward to more exciting projects coming throughout 2020 and beyond.

Airing Pain radio programme

Our radio programme Airing Pain brings together people with chronic pain and top specialists to talk about the resources which can help. We're taking a little break for Christmas, but the next episode of Airing Pain, on the subject of osteoporosis, will be available in January 2020. 

Osteoporosis is a largely ignored condition that affects over 3 million people in the UK, with women being more at risk. Because the symptoms are difficult to notice by patients, it is often referred to as the ‘silent disease’. In this edition of Airing Pain, we learn why prevention, assessment and management are key factors to deal with this condition and develop a correct model of care in the health services. With thanks to the Royal Osteoporosis Society and North Bristol NHS Trust for their help in making this programme.

Listen to the trailer below.

In the meantime, check out our Playlists for theme-specific programmes and subscribe to Airing Pain via Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts, making sure you never miss an episode.
Airing Pain 120: Osteoporosis
Available 7 January 2020

Pain Concern News

North British Pain Association (NBPA) Winter Scientific Meeting 2019

Friday November 29th saw the great and the good of the chronic pain world congregate in the Royal College of Surgeons in Edinburgh for the North British Pain Association’s (NBPA) Winter Scientific Meeting 2019, The Changing Faces of Pain Services.

A packed schedule saw Professor Blair Smith from the University of Dundee, Lead Clinician for Chronic Pain with the Scottish Government, open proceedings with the Dr Peter McKenzie Memorial Lecture. Professor Smith’s lecture looked at where chronic pain services have come from – a personal viewpoint focusing on the changes he has witnessed in 25 years working in the field – as well as looking to what the future might hold for chronic pain services across Scotland and the north of England.

After Professor Smith, Lars Williams, Consultant Anaesthetist at the Scottish National Residential Pain Management Programme, looked at the benefits, or lack thereof, of injections for chronic pain; a widely-used technique, including by himself, which the data does not necessarily back up.

The morning session concluded with David Hopper and Dr Sarah Woods, Clinical Physiotherapist and Clinical Psychologist respectively at Newcastle-upon-Tyne NHS Foundation Trust, explaining how the trust being placed into special measures forced them to reassess how they provide pain services in such a geographically diverse area, and Dr Cormac Ryan from Teesside University, whose presentation on the delivery of pain neuroscience education was well-received, despite technical gremlins at the start.

After lunch there were three further speakers: Linsay Brassington, Clinical Psychologist at NHS Lothian, who presented both sides of the generic vs specific pain management programmes argument; Lucie Knight, Principal Counselling Psychologist at the INPUT Pain Management Unit in London, discussing the pros and cons of online pain management programmes; and Phil Mackie, Lead Consultant in Public Health, finished the day off with his stark figures on whether an increase in the burden of chronic pain around the country is inevitable, as well as looking at the impact of austerity on population health and chronic pain.

The NBPA’s Winter Scientific Meeting 2019 was an excellent event with plenty of food-for-thought for all those who attended, and we look forward to the organisation’s next event in 2020.

To join the NBPA and become a member, visit


Opioid prescribing in the UK

In an editorial published in the December 2019 issue of the British Pain Society’s Pain News (volume 17, issue 4), titled ‘Opioids: observing the pendulum of medical practice’, Drs Rajesh Munglani and Michael Coupe outlined the BPS’s position on opioid prescribing, after comparing the data from the UK and the US, including breaking prescribing rates down based on the demographics involved. They concluded that, although 'there is little evidence that opioids are effective in the long-term, high doses are dangerous and we are facing the possibility of an out-of-control epidemic', it does not seem advisable to opt for an indiscriminate solution that might deprive 'a (small) proportion of patients with chronic non-malignant pain who genuinely benefit from long-term, stable doses of potent opioids', because their doctors have become fearful of regulatory scrutiny. In such cases, opioid prescribing should involve a detailed assessment of the person’s condition.

This position is in line with the Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network (SIGN) guidelines 136, Management of Chronic Pain, for which Pain Concern was consulted in the 2019 revised edition, which recommends that ‘opioids should be considered for short- to medium-term treatment of carefully selected patients with chronic non-malignant pain, for whom other therapies have been insufficient, and the benefits may outweigh the risks of serious harms such as addiction, overdose and death’. The guidelines go on to say that the patients for whom opioids are effective ‘should be assessed early after initiation, with planned reviews thereafter. These should be reviewed annually, at a minimum, but more frequently if required’. The guidelines conclude by saying that overall ‘the aim is to achieve the minimum effective dose and avoid harm. Treatment goals may include improvements in pain relief, function and quality of life. Consideration should be given to a gradual early reduction to the lowest effective dose or complete cessation.’

The Pain News article is available to members only, become a member here.
The SIGN guidelines 136 can be read here.

Christmas Shopping

If you are doing any last-minute online shopping, then we at Pain Concern ask you to help us to help others by buying your presents via AmazonSmile or EasyFundraising. It couldn't be easier - just click the links, select Pain Concern as your chosen charity and then do all your online shopping as usual and retailers will donate a percentage of your purchases directly to us.

It really is the easiest way to donate to us at the click of a button.

Pain Matters Magazine

In our last issue, Pain Matters 73, guest-edited by the neurophathic pain team from University College Hospital London Pain Management Centre, we took an in-depth look at all aspects of neuropathic pain, from what it is to how best to manage and treat it, taking in points of view from those living with it to the healthcare professionals trying to help them.

To buy or subscribe, click here.
For a digital version, click here.
We're taking a little break for Christmas, but when we return we will be working hard on the next issue of Pain Matters, guest-edited by the NHS Borders Chronic Pain Service at Borders General Hospital, scheduled for publication in February 2020.

In the meantime, check our back catalogue of digital magazines via our website or our Pocketmags page for inspirational information about a range of chronic pain-related issues.

Please note: physical magazines are only available to people in the UK and while stocks last.

Upcoming Sales

Digital annual subscriptions to Pain Matters magazine will have a minimum of 30% off between 26 December and 12 January over at in their January Mega Sale.

And keep an eye out later in the month for the 99p Back Issue Flash Sale from 24 - 27 January, which is exactly what you would expect - all back issues of the magazine are 99p each for three days only.
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