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Airing Pain 80: Suffering is Optional

Improving treatment for veterans in pain and facing the challenges of civilian life

This edition has been funded by the MacRobert Trust and the Forces in Mind Trust.

‘Pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional.’ A motto tattooed onto the arm of a wounded veteran which, although easier said than done, is good advice for anyone living with pain. But how can ex-service personnel get the support they need to manage the pain and psychological trauma resulting from what are often horrific injuries?

Producer Paul Evans finds out in this the first edition of Airing Pain’s miniseries on former members of the armed forces who live with pain. Infantry veteran Michael Clough, whose injuries left him with complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) and requiring the amputation of his leg, shares his story of the difficult transition from military hospitals to NHS care. Claire Stephens, CEO of the charity Wound Care for Heroes, and herself medically-retired after injury, outlines how care can be improved.

We also hear from pain management specialists with military backgrounds about the challenges faced by this patient group. Vincent de Mello explains why ex-servicemen in pain often feel abandoned and says that the effects reach beyond the individual to the whole family, while Dominic Aldington discusses the problem of veterans feeling their pain is disbelieved by civilian clinicians.

Issues covered in this programme include: Veterans, CRPS: complex regional pain syndrome, health policy, availability of pain services, primary care, physiotherapy, PTSD: post traumatic stress disorder, misconceptions, GPs and transition from military healthcare to civilian healthcare.


  • Dr Winston de Mello, Consultant in Anaesthesia and Pain Medicine, Wythenshawe Hospital, Manchester
  • Michael Clough, army veteran
  • Lt Col Dr Dominic Aldington, Consultant in Pain Management and Clinical Lead, Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
  • Claire Stephens, CEO, Wound Care for Heroes.

More information:

  • Lt Col Dr Dominic Aldington is able to take NHS referrals of ex-servicemen at his pain clinics in Basingstoke and Winchester. Visit to find out more.
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