Most pain is short term or ‘acute’ and is there to warn us of injury or illness. Once this has resolved, the pain usually goes too.
Pain which is more persistent is known as ‘chronic pain’ and lasts beyond normal healing. This is usually defined as pain that has lasted for more than three months. Chronic pain can be constant or can come and go. This is often despite medical and other treatments.
Although chronic pain is real, tests to identify damage can often come back negative or don’t give a clear explanation or diagnosis for the pain. This can be frustrating and people may feel that they are not being believed, that more tests and treatments should be carried out, or that their pain is not being taken seriously.
In fact chronic pain is a very common condition with a massive impact in the UK and worldwide. In recent years people have begun to treat pain as a diagnosis in its own right. Increasingly, neuroscience research can explain what has happened to the nervous system to cause chronic pain. Changes in the physical nervous system can mean it continues to behave as though there is ongoing disease or injury even when this is not the case, so the person still experiences pain.
People who have had pain for a long time often find it affects their lives in many different ways. Some common difficulties are:
- Not being able to continue with hobbies and sport
- Feeling stiffer and weaker or generally out of condition
- Finding it difficult to manage work
- Not being able to make or keep plans at work or home
- Not being able to take part in social activities
- Finding it difficult to deal with increases in pain or flare-ups
- Finding it difficult to sleep or sleeping too much
- Worrying about pain or the future
- Loss of self-confidence and feeling low
- Not being able to explain pain to others or feeling they don’t understand
In the past, health services were largely focused on the biological (the structure of the body and its systems) aspects of ill health. But over the years there has been an increasing understanding of the relationship with psychological and social factors like those above. In fact, all three areas are important in the overall experience of pain, and this is referred to as the Biopsychosocial Model of Pain. Modern management of pain uses this model as its base.
This means that the Living with Pain Team works to improve your quality of life by looking at all aspects of your pain and how to manage it.
Types of pain
There are a number of different types of chronic pain with different mechanisms underlying them. Some of the most common types we see are:
- Chronic widespread pain, including fibromyalgia;
- Complex regional pain syndrome
- Musculo-skeletal pain
- Neck/back/spinal pain
- Nerve (or neuropathic) pain
- Abdominal or pelvic pain
- Pain associated with gynaecological conditions
- Facial pain
- Chest pain
- Pain associated with rheumotological or hypermobility conditions
- Pain associated with neurological conditions such as multiple sclerosis or stroke
- Post-cancer pain
How the Team works
We are an outpatient service. Once a referral is accepted, we will send you some questionnaires to complete and return. This information helps us decide who you need to see in our team. We will then send you a first appointment. If you are seeing more than one member of the team this appointment may last two or three hours.
Please note that we have a waiting list for appointments. However, as a team we understand that it is distressing for people in pain to wait for appointments and we do our best to keep our waiting lists as short as possible.
If you are unable to keep an appointment please give us at least 48 hours notice so that we can offer it to somebody else.
We see patients at Harrogate District Hospital, Mowbray Square Medical Centre and Skipton General Hospital.
The Phoenix Unit
Harrogate District Hospital
Lancaster Park Road
If you have an appointment with us please check your letter carefully as we use two locations at Harrogate District Hospital. The Phoenix Unit is on the first floor and is accessible by a lift as well as stairs. Please note, we also see patients in the main Outpatient Department on the ground floor of Harrogate District Hospital.
Mowbray Square Medical Centre
The Aire Unit
We take referrals from GPs, hospital consultants and specialist musculoskeletal services. If you think we might be of help to you please discuss with your GP.
Consultant Anaesthetist: Dr Julian Campbell
Physiotherapists: Steve Bathe and Gill Fearnley
Occupational Therapists: Sue Harrington and Julie Robinson
Clinical Psychologists: Dr Georgina Caton and Dr Sharon McKenna
Administrators: Anita Curtis, Krystyna Wappett
- The British Pain Society – this is the national society for pain professionals and has a number of useful publications and resources for patients. Their booklet, ‘Understanding and Managing Pain’, can be downloaded free of charge (or telephone for a paper copy).
- Pain Toolkit – contains practical and easy-to-follow advice written by Pete Moore who lives with chronic pain himself.
- Arthritis Research UK – this charity offers a large range of information and downloadable booklets about a variety of types of pain.
- Pain Concern – a UK based charity for those living with Chronic Pain and those who care for and about them.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Service
Our sister service shares some of the same staff and office space and cares for people managing chronic fatigue or ME. Further information can be found here.