Pain Press

February 2020

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.

Pain Concern News



We are going to be performing an evaluation of our magazine, Pain Matters, over the course of the next few months. Evaluation is a key factor in securing funds, not just for future issues of Pain Matters, but to fund all the work we do here at Pain Concern.

If you are a Pain Matters reader - whether you are a person living with pain, a healthcare professional or just have an interest in chronic pain - we would be extremely grateful if you can complete and return the short questionnaire which will be included with the next magazine. Alternatively, you can visit and complete the online version. It should only take about five minutes and your responses will help us to continue producing the variety of resources we produce.



The British Pain Society, the UK’s oldest and largest multidisciplinary professional organisation in the field of pain, will hold this year’s annual scientific meeting in London from 31st March to 2nd April.
We, at Pain Concern, have attended these events over many years to participate in workshops, present our research findings and record interviews for Airing Pain.
As Paul Evans, producer of Airing Pain says:

‘Being at an event where World leading practitioners, researchers and pioneers in the field of pain from the UK and beyond come together to share knowledge, experience and future developments gives hope to those of us living with chronic pain on a daily, hourly basis.

People living with pain often feel isolated from current practice and future developments, so it has been a privilege for me to meet and record interviews with some of these luminaries to spread their words and ideas to the wider pain community, particularly those living with pain, their families and supporters.’

Information about the 2020 event:
2020 ASM, 31st March – 2nd April 2020, Park Plaza London Riverbank

With a range of topical debate-driven plenaries and a varied and stimulating programme of parallel sessions, this is one of our best ASMs yet.

Come and hear Dr Phill Hammond give the BPS Lecture on 'How not to die yet' on 31st March, and Dr Vilayanur Ramachandran talk us through whether 'Pain is just an opinion' during the Pat Wall Lecture on 1st April.

This year it is possible to attend any combination of ASM days to suit your interests and availability. Delegates can choose to attend on one, two or three days of the ASM, and an add on pre or post meeting for a truly customisable delegate experience. Please check out the Programmes for the Acute Pain and Interventional Pain Medicine pre-meetings, and details on the cadaver workshop to follow the ASM, to be found in the Meeting Programme below.
AND if you register for the ASM, you will have access to the following sessions included in the registration fee:

  • Opioids update for Non-Medical Prescribers
  • Headache SIG Meeting
  • Meet the Experts
  • Ultrasound workshops

To view the full 2020 Annual Scientific Meeting Programme, please go to


In issue 73 of Pain Matters, we published an article about the Matrix programme, developed by the Pain Management Centre at University College London Hospitals to help introduce mindfulness into their neuropathic pain treatment.

You can read all about the programme here:

Or, to read the original article in our Pain Matters Neuropathic Pain Special, click here to buy or subscribe.

Latest News

The term "painkiller" should not be used to help bust the myth they cure pain
by Nick Triggle, BBC News - 6 February 2020

Professor Jamie Coleman, an expert in pharmacology at Birmingham University who is part of a working group looking at the use of opioid medication for the government in England, said making such drugs prescription-only alongside a change in culture towards painkillers, was the key to tackling misuse. According to him, the phrase 'painkiller' raised unrealistic expectations - with 'pain-reliever' a better option.

To read the whole article, click here.
Losing faith: the patients waiting years for specialist pain treatment
by Dawn Connelly, The Pharmaceutical Journal – 6 February 2020

Delays in accessing pain services in some parts of the country mean that people with chronic pain are struggling to cope. The evidence shows that holistic care can make a positive difference to patient’s lives. However, waiting times for specialist services vary hugely across Great Britain, and some patients wait years to access the treatment they so badly need.

Not only do patients lose faith in the medical profession during these long waits for specialist care, but their health can suffer too.

However, accepting that chronic pain often cannot be treated with a pill is not easy for some. The problem is two-fold: there is a culture of a pill for all ills in this country, and rehabilitation takes much more effort. Furthermore, for a lot of people, being prescribed a strong analgesic validates their pain.

If chronic pain could be managed effectively, it would help to prevent multiple GP and hospital visits, high analgesic use, poor quality of life and unemployment due to ill-health.

To read the whole article, click here.
Chronic pain: prescribe mental health support as well as drugs, say experts
by Nicola Davis, The Guardian – 5 February 2020

Pills are not the only way to manage chronic pain like mine
by Frances Ryan, The Guardian – 13 February 2020

People with chronic pain should be prescribed social interventions, such as mental health support instead of just opioid painkillers, experts have said.

About 28 million adults the UK live with pain that has lasted three months or more, according to recent research. But tackling such pain is challenging, with few effective treatments on offer.

While opioids are known to work for short-term pain, it is thought as few as one in 10 patients with chronic pain not linked to cancer may benefit from such drugs.

Dr Cathy Stannard, clinical lead for guidelines on chronic pain from NICE, said that opioids are overprescribed in the UK, but the extent is unknown, and the reasons are complex, stressing GPs are not simply 'doling out drugs'. As well as a lack of access to mental health services, she said, doctors can feel pressured to prescribe opioids even though they expect them to bring little benefit, because of the distress and desperation of the patient in front of them.

Guardian columnist Frances Ryan discusses this story in her opinion piece, concluding: 'Painkillers, prescribed safely, are vital for many, and addressing the stigma and misinformation around their long-term use is key. But considering the bigger picture – from housing to food poverty – is both smart and humane.'

To read the whole article, click here.
To read the opinion piece, click here.

Pain Matters #74


In our first magazine of the new decade, we have invited the Chronic Pain Team from NHS Borders in the south of Scotland into the guest-editor’s chair for issue 74. In a jam-packed issue, they have looked at everything from the Pain Self-Management Jigsaw, which tries to bring together all the different aspects of managing pain, to the role of occupational therapy and how laughter can be a tool in the pain management toolbox.

Also in this issue, Vidyamala Burch returns with her ‘Being Mindful’ column, giving her three reasons why mindfulness is helpful for ‘living well with pain’.

To buy or subscribe, click here.
For a digital version, click here.



In April 2019, the Minister for Health and Social Services in Wales launched the guidance document Living with Persistent Pain in Wales. Later, in December, the Chronic Pain Policy Coalition brought together some of Wales’s leading pain experts at the home of the Welsh parliament (or Senedd Cymru) in Cardiff, at an event chaired by Neil Betteridge, co-chair of the Chronic Pain Policy Coalition, a group which brings together a wide range of chronic pain stakeholders including professional bodies, patient organisations, parliamentarians and industry representatives from across the UK.

This edition of Airing Pain was recorded live at the event, where clinicians, academics, policy-makers and people living with pain came together to discuss both the new document and the future of chronic pain services across the region.

With thanks to the Chronic Pain Policy Coalition and the Welsh Government for facilitating the recording of this event.

  • Neil Betteridge, Co-Chair, Chronic Pain Policy Coalition
  • Dr Paul Cameron, Specialty Advisor to the Chief Medical Officer for Scotland 
  • Professor Ernest Choy, Head of Rheumatology, Cardiff University
  • Mary Cowern, Wales Director, Versus Arthritis
  • David Easton, Physiotherapist,  Hywel Da NHS Trust
  • Dr Lucy Morris, GP partner, Bellevue Practice, Newport
  • Professor Ann Taylor, Professor in Medical Education, Cardiff University.

More information: *Please note: the programme link will not become active until it goes live on Tuesday 3 March 2020.
Or search for Airing Pain in Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.


Airing Pain 41: Inside a Multidisciplinary Pain Team

To coincide with Pain Matters 74, out at the end of February, which takes an in-depth look at the work of a multidisciplinary pain team, this month we are showcasing this Airing Pain episode from 2013, which looked at how experts from different backgrounds work together:

Presenter Paul Evans travels to Northern Ireland to meet a multidisciplinary pain team at Craigavon Area Hospital, including doctors, psychologists and physiotherapists, led by Dr Paul McConaghy. We find out how cases of chronic pain are discussed by experts of different disciplines and how management strategies are then put into place. The importance of educating GPs about chronic pain is discussed, as well as the need for empathetic and respectful professionals.

Paul Evans sees how the team works by sitting in on a meeting about an example patient: Dr Sam Dawson presents the case of a 38 year old woman with chronic lower back pain. Referred by her GP, treatment so far has not led to improvement and she is now experiencing depression.

The team discuss the strategies they would use in working together with such a patient. Psychologist Dr Nicola Sherlock stresses the importance of treating depression as it not only hinders the management of a person’s pain but worsens the symptoms and she and physiotherapist Michele McGeown explain the importance of dealing with psychological issues, particularly fear of movement, in helping patients improve their physical fitness. The team also talk about how they could use TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) machines to help some patients and how medical doctors and psychologists can work together to understand how a patient is likely to respond to injections. Finally, Dr Jim McMullan explains how GPs can learn from and complement the multidisciplinary approach by listening carefully to the patient and taking into account psychological and social as well as physical aspects of their condition.


  • Dr Nicola Sherlock, Clinical Psychologist with an interest in Pain Management
  • Dr Sam Dawson, Registrar
  • Dr Paul McConaghy, Consultant in Anaesthesia & Pain Management
  • Mrs Michele McGeown, Specialist Pain Physiotherapist
  • Sister Bríd McInerney, Pain Sister
  • Dr Jacek Sobocinski, Consultant in Pain Management & Anaesthesia
  • Dr Jim McMullan, GP and lecturer at Queens University.
To listen to the episode, click here.

Pain Concern needs you!

Pain concern is always on the lookout for volunteers, both based in our Edinburgh office and working from home. If you are interested in any of the roles below, please email for more details.

Help us to help others!

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