Chronic pain is no joke – but event brings fresh perspective: North East healthcare workers join pioneering Australian scientist at Newcastle comedy club

• Global expert shared unique insights on pain and how patients can be better treated for chronic conditions
• North East region has highest number of opioid prescriptions in UK

Healthcare workers in the North East recently attended a seminar with a difference – as one of the world’s leading pain scientists and its most renowned pain educator, Professor Lorimer Moseley, hosted an event in a Newcastle comedy club.

Almost 100 local attendees, including physiotherapists, osteopaths and sports therapists, packed into The Stand Comedy Club in the city for ‘Pain in the Spotlight’ an entertaining, participatory show led by the Australian professor, who shared insights and anecdotes on the topic of pain and how it is treated.

Studies show that the North East is particularly affected by chronic pain and opioid painkiller usage: more than 20 million prescriptions for opioid painkillers are dispensed in England and Wales each year, with prevalence highest in the North East[1]. Three times the number of opioids are prescribed in the region per head than in London[2].

During the show, which was co-hosted by Professor Cormac Ryan, Professor of Clinical Rehabilitation at Teesside University, local healthcare professionals participated in ‘gameshow’-style quizzes, including versions of ‘Family Fortunes’ and ‘Play Your Cards Right’ and teams were pitted against each other to get a deeper insight into the experiences of those living with chronic pain.

The event was held by health initiative Flippin’ Pain™, which is the innovation of Newcastle-headquartered community healthcare services provider, Connect Health. Its aim is to change outdated perceptions and treatment of pain, highlighting how scans, medications and surgery are not always the answer and in fact, are significantly out of step with latest scientific research. Studies show that in many cases where there is no longer any injury, pain is the result of the body’s ‘overprotectiveness’ – hence, it is the brain, not elsewhere in the body, which must learn there is no longer a risk.

Attendees took part in engaging exercises to demonstrate the many factors that affect how pain is felt – including how factors such as general health, beliefs and previous experiences can determine the intensity of pain.

Richard Pell, Flippin’ Pain™ Campaign Director said: “Living with chronic pain is no joke – but we also know how tough it can be to be a healthcare professional these days and so we wanted to create an opportunity for learning that would be enjoyable and memorable too. It was a brilliant, eclectic evening – from understanding the day-to-day experiences of those who live with chronic pain, to hearing about Lorimer’s brush with death in the Australian outback, after being bitten by one of the world’s most poisonous snakes!

“Our thanks go to Lorimer and Cormac who are both international leaders in the chronic pain sector, for taking the time to support clinicians in our region.

“Feedback from local healthcare professionals has been excellent. They’ve told us they’re looking forward to putting learnings from the event into practice in their local communities, helping to improve outcomes for the many people whose lives are significantly affected by chronic pain.”

Soundbites from attendees included: “Probably the best CPD event I’ve ever been to. Funny but also educational. Complex concepts explained in a fun way,” and “Very fun evening which was well taught and made easy to follow – very applicable to my work practice.”

In addition to the Newcastle event, Lorimer and Cormac led another Connect Health ‘Pain the Spotlight’ event in London welcoming more 100 healthcare workers from the area.

Professor Lorimer Moseley concluded: “It is a privilege to work with the Connect Health and Flippin’ Pain teams – what they are doing in the UK really is helping to change lives for the better and resonating with the people who need it the most; those affected by debilitating, life-altering pain and the clinicians treating them.”

For more information, visit www.flippinpain.co.uk.

[1] https://byronmedicalpractice.co.uk/pain-killers-dont-exist/
[2] https://news.sky.com/story/north-south-divide-in-opioid-and-painkiller-prescribing-with-high-use-in-englands-most-deprived-areas-12706821