Skip links and keyboard navigation


When pain becomes chronic the challenge is to move away from a focus on the initial (tissue) injury and instead the goals of recovery and treatment are to reduce the likelihood of your brain interpreting stimuli to be dangerous and wind down your nervous system, both of which usually trigger the pain response. There is also a focus on self-management strategies that you can use to improve your quality of life.

To access the Persistent Pain Management Services (PPMS) you will need a referral from your GP even if you have been referred by another specialist doctor.

You will also need to complete an entry questionnaire. It helps our team understand, in detail, how your pain affects you. Take the completed questionnaire to your GP with you when you get your referral, as this should be sent to us at the same time. For more information and to see if you meet criteria please view the PPMS brochure and consumer frequently asked questions.

The PPMS approach

Here at PPMS treatment focus is by means of a biopsychosocial approach, concentrating on you as a whole and addressing multiple aspects of your pain and lifestyle. The aim in chronic pain intervention is to “retrain the brain”, improve functioning and quality of life. Biopsychosocial factors that may be addressed during intervention at PPMS may include (but are not limited to):

Challenging thoughts about the pain with cognitive behaviour therapy - “I worry all the time about what my future with pain may hold, it seems terrible”.
Getting back into valued activities using a paced approach - “I avoid socialising with friends now, life isn’t very enjoyable anymore”.
Re-training the brain and body that IT IS OK TO MOVE - “If I move my body in certain ways or do certain exercises I get so much pain, but I’d like to be more active”.
Socio-psycho-biomedical approach

Your role in recovery

You and your GP are the most important members of your pain treatment team and you will both be in charge of ongoing management.

Following your attendance at PAIN101 or individual assessment you are eligible to attend individual treatment or group programs such as PREP, MIND, PACING and SLEEP (check the group treatment fact sheet and group timetable for more information). You have 12 months to use our service, after which time you will need a new referral from your GP.

We are a patient driven service and therefore we expect you as a patient to assist us in aspects of completing your Pain Management Plan (following assessment) and initiate your appointments after your initial attendance. The best way to achieve good results is to set clear realistic goals. This enables us to work together so that you get the most out of the PPMS program. We ask that when you have achieved all you require from us, that you let us know, and we transfer your care back to your G.P. For further information please check your Rights and Responsibilities as a patient.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do I need to attend the PAIN101 group education program? Can't I just see a doctor?

Extensive research into pain management over the past ten years suggests one of the best ways to treat persistent pain is to understand all factors that impact pain other than medical treatment only. Persistent pain is considered a chronic health condition and as such it is important that you understand all the factors that can influence your pain.

The PAIN101 group education program helps you work out which factors may help manage your pain better and improve your quality of life. This helps you choose which of the PPMS options you may like to access.

Am I going to see a doctor at all?

If your referral is prioritised as urgent you will see a specialist doctor before being encouraged to attend PAIN101. If you are referred to PAIN101 as your first visit you can then consider if you need more medical advice.

You can request an individual appointment with a clinician in our service after attending PAIN101 which could include a review of your pain management by a specialist doctor.

Many patients decide they do not need to see a specialist doctor as they are happy with their medication and choose to make other non-medical changes to their pain management plan. An appointment with a doctor is appropriate if you want your medications reviewed, or need a medical opinion on your pain.

What will PAIN101 and your other programs teach me about pain? I live with it every day and have tried everything. What do you do that is different?

Our PAIN101 program has been developed from research that shows that pain management requires committed behavioural change by working on your response to the pain rather than becoming overwhelmed by it.

The recommended strategies include:

  • understanding pain causes through education
  • retraining the brain
  • mindfulness approaches
  • movement with awareness
  • graded return to activity
  • pacing and management of daily activities
  • stress management
  • sleep strategies
  • meaningful activity.

If you understand and apply most of these strategies then you may not need a referral to our service. Check the list and see if there is anything missing from your self-management tool box. A good question to ask is ‘does my pain stop me from living the life I want to live?’ If the answer is yes, then you might want to follow through with your referral.

What can I expect during an assessment?

Initial assessments: Initial assessments may be with one or more team members, types of assessment may include:

  • Multi-disciplinary Pain Team Assessments – two hour assessment during which time you will see several disciplines including  the Occupational therapist, Physiotherapist, Psychologist and Senior Medical Officer
  • Senior Medical Officer assessments with the Occupational Therapist OR Physiotherapist OR Psychologist – these assessments will also take two hours

Following initial assessment you will be asked to participate in completion of an Initial Pain Management Plan which will make preliminary medical and treatment recommendations.

Chronic pain is a multi-dimensional problem that affects you, the patient, and your family in a variety of ways. Our approach to assessment will focus on your medical, functional, physical and psychological needs.

At the completion of your assessment a pain team report will be generated and addressed to your General Practitioner. This report will include relevant assessment findings, as well as an overview of your ongoing treatment plan and community support options.

Why does the doctor want to lower my medication when I am in so much pain?

Persistent pain management deals with all the factors that contribute to your pain. Medication only deals with part of the pain problem.

The following points are considered in any medication recommendations:

  • medication needs to be targeted to your particular type of pain
  • medication needs to provide maximum pain relief with minimum side effects
  • too much of some types of medication can actually increase pain
  • your medication may not be reduced, each individual case will be assessed at a medical appointment.

Can my GP speak to the pain specialist doctor?

Phone enquiries from your GP are most welcome. Your GP can contact the PPMS to request a discussion about your pain management and a telephone consultation time can be arranged between your GP and one of our specialist doctors. In some cases a patient case conference is recommended and will be scheduled at a mutually convenient time at request of the PPMS team or GP.

Can I speak to the pain medicine doctor on the phone?

The pain specialist doctors sometimes undertake review appointments by phone after you have seen them in person. These phone reviews will be scheduled in advance and you will need to make yourself available at the pre-determined time. Our doctors are not able to take outpatient phone calls at unscheduled times.

I just need my script refilled

You need to see your GP for ongoing prescription of medication. If you have had an individual assessment, your GP will be sent a summary report of recommendations which will include recommendations about medication if you have been seen by one of our doctors.

Last updated: 22 August 2019