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Airing Pain 142 – a listener’s review

Dale Rockell listens to, and reviews, edition 142 of Airing Pain: Societal Inequalities and Disparities in Pain Management.

A profile image of Dale Rockell.

Dale Rockell is a photographer, blogger and Airing Pain listener who lives with fibromyalgia.

As someone living with Fibromyalgia, I have an active interest in learning to live better despite chronic pain. I welcome each episode of Airing Pain, hosting experts in pain management and research, conversations with others living with pain, and how the overall approach to supporting those living with chronic pain may develop. Presenter Paul Evans also lives with chronic pain, and this brings a strong element of understanding and personal experience to the interviews.

Exploring inequalities

It won’t be news to those living with chronic pain that there are inequalities in support and understanding across the UK health care sector, which still exist in 2024. We must be grateful that research is able to pinpoint this, and that Airing Pain attend events to speak with those undertaking such important work and bring it to the attention of a wider audience. Many may have experienced inequality in their care firsthand, I have certainly experienced the disbelief and reluctance of medical professionals when trying to discuss my challenges with Fibromyalgia.

Musculoskeletal pain care

In episode 142 of Airing Pain, Paul investigates how societal inequalities in gender, ethnicity, disability and locality, impacts access to consistent levels of care for pain patients. While the episode and research discussed is looking at care for musculoskeletal pain, the outcomes, we would hope, would create improvements for other chronic pain support. With high-quality reporting and production style, the conversations highlight the shortfalls in support from GPs to Pain Clinics, and across all medical professions that may interact with pain patients.

Professor Jonathan Hill presents research that paints a picture of how diverse and significant inequalities, and even discrimination towards those with pain can be, based on the above factors. He also discusses the underlying causes and possible solutions; from upskilling requirements at GP practices to taking time to listen to what matters to

patients, with empathy and understanding. Dr Hill also identifies that there needs to be a level of care for pain patients more akin to other conditions like diabetes, where patients receive structured education about their condition and experiences, and ongoing support to manage and live with chronic pain.

Discussing stigma and cultural differences

Another key point for me was Dr Whitney Scott highlighting that stigma of one’s condition, enabled by societal and cultural narratives, can lead to an internal stigma of self and feeling invalidated by others.

Dr Ama Kissi discusses her research into why education is essential in how cultural differences affect how pain may be expressed by patients and why racial biases influence how this information is interpreted. She also shares her personal experience in this area, allowing the listener to relate to her and what is being discussed.

Putting findings into practice

While those living with pain will welcome insights into research being undertaken in these areas (and be extremely thankful to Airing Pain for bringing them to wider attention!) they will also be wondering how such improvements would be rolled out through the medical community, given the current extreme pressure to deliver services. The episode highlights that while the UK health sector is struggling to provide support to pain patients, digital solutions may provide opportunities in cost and time efficiency.

It’s vital that Pain Concern, The British Pain Society and other pain organisations continue to ask these key questions and bring to light the individuals researching, presenting and proposing avenues to educate and improve the support provided to all of us living with chronic pain, as well as the knowledge of medical professionals.

Importance of advocacy

I am someone who has felt driven to engage in advocacy with the Fibromyalgia community and have become increasingly encouraged to be vocal for men with chronic pain, I have found that raising awareness and understanding of pain issues is an uphill challenge, and mostly confined within our communities.

This episode emphasises chronic pain is a medical condition that is overshadowed by other conditions in terms of research and improvement in support available, and in some cases by outdated beliefs and attitudes. Airing Pain, Pain Concern, and The British Pain Society understand this, the least those of us living with pain can do is take a listen. We must learn to better advocate for ourselves from the information provided, share episodes with our online communities, contacts in medical professions and loved ones, increase awareness, and hopefully improve our own quality of life.

Rating: 5.00/5. From 1 vote.
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