Support groups for people suffering from chronic pain, dubbed ‘Pain Cafes‘, have opened across Cornwall in a bid to help people manage their pain without relying solely on prescription painkillers.
The Pain Cafes, led by Chronic Pain in Cornwall (CPIC), have launched at 15 centres across the South West region, as part of a five-year plan to offer solutions beyond pills for patients who live with chronic pain.
The project has trained 50 healthcare professionals – including physios, social prescribers and health coaches – on how best to support those seeking less reliance on medicine for their conditions. Each professional has completed a ten-footsteps training programme.
Chronic pain lead for NHS Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Integrated Care Board, Dr Jim Huddy, told the BBC: “It’s a de-medicalised, non-clinical approach to take the weight off our stretched healthcare services, to produce localised peer support groups.”
Former mechanical engineer Sean Jennings, 62, developed chronic pain after a routine hernia operation at 32 and has spent 25 years taking high-dose medication to manage his pain and is one of the patients involved in the scheme.
He said: “I have since learned that skills not pills help me to actually self-manage my own pain. I am now approaching five years totally medication-free, living a really full life”.
Another patient, Louise Trewern, who suffered long-term knee pain caused by osteoarthritis, weaned herself off prescription painkillers after using them to treat chronic pain for more than a decade.
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She told the Pain Cafe website: “I came off them with the help of my local pain service and learned self management techniques such as mindfulness and pacing. I now walk daily, use an exercise bike to manage knee pain from osteoarthritis and swim in the sea all year round.
“Before I came off opioids I never thought my life could be any better & now I feel fitter and healthier than ever! I still live with some pain but use my self management skills to live well with it.”
For more information on the Pain Cafes, visit pain.cafe