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Airing Pain 45: Helping Us to Help Ourselves

Empowering patients from GP’s surgery to Pain Management Programme

This programme was funded by the Big Lottery Fund’s Awards For All programme in Northern Ireland.

Healthcare professionals and people with pain need to work together to manage chronic pain conditions, but how is this achieved in practice? Paul Evans speaks to a GP, physiotherapist and clinical psychologist to find out more.

We begin by hearing from GP and pain specialist Neville McMullan about his work with Ulster Hospital to improve access to pain management programmes by bringing them out of the hospital into the community and giving people the skills to manage their own pain.

Dr McMullan stresses the importance of getting patients out of a cycle of inactivity and physical deterioration. This is where physiotherapy comes in as we hear from Ashley Montgomery, a physiotherapist at Ulster Hospital. Montgomery describes how understanding the reality of chronic pain, being believed and getting the balance between rest and activity right can give people confidence to take the first steps towards self-managing their condition.

Consultant Clinical Psychologist Jenny Maguire explains how acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) builds upon CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) to help people adjust to living with pain as a long term condition.

Issues covered in this programme include: Physiotherapy, accessibility, community healthcare, activity, exercise, ACT: acceptance and commitment therapy, CBT: cognitive behavioural therapy, psychology, multidisciplinary, pain toolkit, activity-rest cycle, pacing, social life, confidence, flare-up, painkillers and alternative therapy.


  • Dr Neville McMullan, GP, Belfast
  • Ashley Montgomery, Physiotherapist, Ulster Hospital
  • Jenny Maguire, Consultant Clinical Psychologist.
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