ESSA launches eBook for Australians with chronic pain

29 July 2022

Exercise and movement are essential ingredients in the management of chronic pain, which impacts 3.37 million Australians every year, according to a new eBook, Exercise for Persisting Pain , launched by Exercise & Sports Science Australia (ESSA) in collaboration with Painaustralia .

Chronic (or persistent pain) can have a devastating impact on physical health, mental health, employment opportunities, social well-being, and quality of life. More than 68% (2.3 million) of Australians living with persistent pain are of working age.

Many of those living with persistent pain avoid exercise because they fear it will make their pain worse, however decades of research have shown exercise is universally accepted as an important treatment for most persistent pain conditions.

“In my role as an exercise physiologist treating persistent musculoskeletal pain over the last 22 years, I have been fortunate to witness the physical and psychological benefits of exercise for people with musculoskeletal pain,” said eBook co-author, Associate Professor John Booth.

“Regular exercise and physical activity are vital to recovery, developing confidence and empowering people to re-engage and get back to the activities they want and need to do.

“Any physical activity and movement is better than none! Even a single bout of exercise such as 20 minutes walking or stretching can improve symptoms.”

Painaustralia Chief Executive Officer Giulia Jones said chronic pain was best treated by a multidisciplinary approach and as well as care from physicians and appropriate medicines, movement is really important.

“While every person with pain needs a tailored approach, it is really good to see more information and this book details the ways in which exercise can be a part of that mix,” she said.

“We know that for some people living with pain, hydrotherapy, yoga and muscle strengthening is very positive and can help.

“We encourage consumers to talk with their health professionals about the available options to manage their pain and what type of exercise, if possible, can help them.”

ESSA Chief Executive Officer Anita Hobson-Powell said the importance of getting individualised advice was especially important for those living with persisting pain conditions.

"Accredited Exercise Physiologists are university-qualified health professionals who specialise in the prescription of exercise interventions for those living with chronic pain,” Hobson-Powell said.

“They understand the complex relationship between pain and movement, and will work with an individual’s healthcare team to provide a multifaceted approach to pain management.

“At ESSA, we believe every Australian that is experiencing persisting pain should be supported in their exercise journey.

“This eBook is a free resource designed to help those living with chronic pain, as well as their carers, family, and friends, to understand how exercise can help them to manage pain and improve quality of life.”

The total financial cost of chronic pain in Australia in 2020 was estimated to be $144.1 billion and the prevalence of chronic pain is estimated to increase from 3.37 to 5.23 million people by 2050.

ESSA’s new ebook can be accessed here.