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The Persistent Pain Service

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Please note- These web pages are still under construction, and may not contain all relevant information at this time.
What is pain?                                                   

Pain is normal and affects everyone from time to time. It protects us and warns us of danger usually before an injury happens. Sometimes we hardly notice pain and sometimes it can be unbearable. The cause is often obvious and easy to understand, like tissue damage from a broken bone, cut, strain or bruise. It can cause us to move differently, think differently and behave differently. Healing usually takes place in less than three months and specific medical treatments can sometimes be helpful. This is acute pain.

Quite often, the pain may not go away, even when tissues have fully healed. At this point, the pain has no purpose and specific medical treatments are often no longer helpful. Even though it might feel the same as acute pain, it does not indicate ongoing tissue damage. Instead, the pain is less to do with injury or tissue damage and more to do with our central nervous system. In other words, the pain has become more complex and more difficult to understand than acute pain. This is persistent pain. It is also known as chronic pain.

It is important to consider causes of pain that may benefit from traditional pain relieving treatments. However, it is equally important to support people living with persistent pain who can no longer benefit from these treatments and for whom a cure or ‘fix’ is unlikely. This can be difficult for a person to accept but, with the right support, they can help themselves live life well with less impact from pain on mood, relationships with family and friends and their ability to work or relax.

The Swansea Bay University Health Board (SB UHB)
Persistent Pain Service strives to provide this support.

Our multi-disciplinary team includes Healthcare Support Workers, Occupational Therapists, Nurses, Physiotherapists, Doctors and Psychologists who all specialise in pain management. We aim to support people living with persistent pain to live life as well as possible. We provide a range of services to help people gain more knowledge and improve skills and confidence to self-manage. We also aim to increase general awareness of the many aspects around dealing with persistent pain through sharing knowledge with the public and other healthcare professionals.

Once referred, our admin team will contact you when you are near the top of the waiting list to agree on a date to attend. We will send you questionnaires to complete which will help us to better understanding of your problems and allow more time during the session to work on possible solutions to managing your pain.

It is important you complete the questionnaires and bring them with you to your first appointment along with an up to date and accurate record of your medications. You may also find it useful to bring a list of questions so you don’t forget anything. Please inform us in advance if you have difficulties filling in the questionnaires.

Guided by the information received from the referral and questionnaires, at the first appointment we will have a conversation with you about what matters to you and what you hope to achieve from attending the service. An appointment will normally last around 45 minutes. You may be asked about your pain history, your physical and emotional health, your social circumstances and your medication. You may also need to have a physical assessment so please wear suitable clothing.

Following your assessment, we will work with you to decide on what might be the best way forward. Sometimes we will recommend a change to your medication to try to help your pain so that you can improve your ability to do the things you would like to. You may benefit from treatments which might give you temporary relief of your pain. Some of these treatments can be performed at the time of assessment, and some may need to be performed at another appointment.

For some people with persistent pain conditions medications and medical treatments are not the answer. Learning to adjust and live with persistent pain can be both physically and emotionally challenging. We may talk to you about things that you can do to help you cope more successfully with the persistent pain. We might suggest some gentle exercises to improve your flexibility and strength and a referral for further physiotherapy may be offered.

Follow up appointments may include

  • medication review
  • specialised physiotherapy
  • specialised occupational therapy
  • individualised psychological therapies
  • specific injections to diagnose the source and potentially reduce your pain
  • tailored information as to how you can focus on living your life well, despite the pain
  • activity management group
  • interdisciplinary pain management program (PMP) – see PMP section on this website for further information.

All of the support provided is evidence-based and follows national and international guidelines for persistent pain management.

Your GP will be informed of our plans and recommendations, They may be advised to consider our recommended medication changes.

If a cure or ‘fix’ for your persistent pain is unlikely, and there are no further medical investigations planned, a referral from your GP or healthcare professional to our service can offer further support. Information received from the referral helps us determine which part of our service is most appropriate for you.

We aim to see you in one of our clinics within 26 weeks of receiving the referral. We will aim to see you in a location as close to your home as possible, although some parts of our service are only available in certain locations.

Whilst waiting to attend the service there are many useful resources you can access to support you to self-manage your pain. Please see the useful links section on this web site

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