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  • The emotional toll of chronic pain

    Author: HealthTimes

  • 6.9 million Australians live with musculoskeletal conditions
  • A third of Australians who live with chronic pain, will develop mental health conditions
  • The leading cause of disability for 28% of Australians is musculoskeletal pain

    Subscribe for FREE to the HealthTimes magazine

  • During National Pain Week, Osteopathy Australia encourages those living with pain to learn more about musculoskeletal health

Whilst invisible, pain is very real for the 6.9 million Australians living with musculoskeletal conditions. Whilst debilitating, the reality is that without pain management, a third (34%) of Australians who suffer from chronic pain, will develop mental health conditions1.

Musculoskeletal pain is the leading cause of disability for a third (28%) of Australians which leads to a feeling comparable to burning or tingling, leaving those living with pain unable to work, sleep or even walk.

Osteopath and Pain Educator, Dr Elizabeth Howard talks about the impacts of pain on the whole body.


Chief Executive Officer
Alexandra District Health
Registered Nurse/Clinical Nurse (Accident and Emergency Department)
SA Health, Flinders & Upper North Local Health Network
Registered Nurse
South Coast Radiology

“Pain is one of our internal ‘protective’ signals that we may be in danger. When we feel pain in our muscles, joints or connective tissues, it can be either from actual or even from potential damage that our body is warning us about.

“Musculoskeletal pain can really restrict a person’s life and their ability to function to their desired potential. While people love to be social and get together to walk, play sport or go to the park, if we are restricted by pain, it can really affect our social lives, and then inevitably, our mental health,” Dr Howard says.

As 30%–40% of people with chronic pain report major depression2, the uncertainty of a full recovery results in feelings of despair and defeat. This creates a vicious cycle between our physical and mental wellbeing.

“Pain can influence declines in mood and personal wellbeing, creates feelings of fear, anxiety, stress and worry. Sometimes you need to take a look at the whole body and understand the person’s environment to formulate a recovery plan,” Dr Howard said.

Osteopathy considers the pain and the person together to provide a personal therapy, focusing not only on the pain, but also what is going on around it.

“As osteopaths, our task is to look for the main contributors to your pain, and provide education, manual therapy and a management plan that is focused on how you can reduce your pain and prevent re-occurrence,” says Dr Howard.

During National Pain Week (July 22 – 28), Osteopathy Australia is encouraging those struggling with pain to learn more about musculoskeletal health by visiting an osteopath. For further information consult your GP and visit

Top tips to avoid pain

  • Get a good night’s sleep
  • Have a pillow and mattress that correctly supports your head and body
  • Take a microbreak every 15 minutes from your chair to stretch
  • Don’t stay in the same position for too long
  • Do what exercise you are able to, however small it might seem
  • Start and keep moving
  • Reconsider your seating situation at work
  • Avoid sustained awkward postures
  • Don’t slouch or let your shoulders fold in


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