People who live in regional and remote Australia are more likely to have chronic pain than those who live in major cities. For back pain, the most common form of pain, people who live outside major cities are 23% more likely—and those aged 55 to 64 are 30% more likely—to live with it compared with urban areas.
Higher rates of pain may be associated with rural industries such as agriculture, mining, forestry and fishin which have higher rates of injury. Excess body weight—which is implicated in painful conditions such as osteoarthritis—is another factor, with rural residents 13% more likely to be overweight or obese.
There is also the self-reliant nature of country people, the “she’ll be right” attitude, which may mean people are more likely to remain silent about their pain and less likely to seek help. The result of this, however, is that pain is more likely to worsen.
It is important to know that the earlier treatment is sought, the more likely the condition will improve. The most effective treatment for almost every form of chronic pain is multidisciplinary pain management combined with self-management techniques.
Although there are fewer pain specialists and pain clinics in rural areas, there may be telehealth options available, or live-in pain mutlidisciplinary pain management education programs at city hospitals. There are also an increasing number of health professionals from rural areas being trained in chronic pain management.
If you are unable to travel, please contact your nearest pain clinic or talk to your GP about Telehealth services.