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Awareness week shines light on chronic pain

For National Pain Week “CityNews” speaks to some of Canberra’s experts in understanding and treating pain.

ACCORDING to Chronic Pain Australia, more than 3.6 million Australians are affected by chronic pain. 

Chronic pain is considered to be pain lasting longer than three months and although it can be a symptom of a known illness or injury, it can also exist without a clear reason at all.

Today, about one in five people in Australia live with chronic pain, including one in three people over the age of 65.

However, National Pain Week 2022 is looking to shine light on the condition and encourage people to seek support and advice from others, rather than suffer in silence.

The week runs from July 25 to July 31, during which Chronic Pain Australia will host a series of Facebook Live Events and webinars.

They will advocate that “all Australians living with chronic pain receive Triple-AAA standards of care – awareness, accessibility and affordability.”

For National Pain Week “CityNews” speaks to some of Canberra’s experts in understanding and treating pain.


Chronic pain treatment varies from person to person

Orthopaedics ACT, Dr Nicholas Tsai. Photo: Geoff Comfort.

WHEN treating chronic pain, Dr Nick Tsai from Orthopaedics ACT says it’s key to note that pain differs from person to person.

“It’s important to determine whether the pain is mechanical, which can be managed operatively by either fixing or replacing a joint, or related to other causes such as the spine or nerves, which often need medications, injections or other treatment methods,” he says.

Most commonly, Dr Tsai says Orthopaedics ACT sees patients with osteoarthritis pain, a condition he describes as “very debilitating”.

“It can negatively affect quality of life, sleep and makes it hard to function normally,” he says.

“In general this sort of pain responds very well [to treatment], even if it’s been going for a long time.”

But Orthopaedics ACT’s experienced team can help with other types of chronic pain, too, Dr Tsai says.

“Some people can have pain, which is not mechanical, but is related to nerve injuries and can become something called a complex regional pain syndrome,” says Dr Tsai.

“This is a different type of pain, which is generally not amenable to surgical treatment but needs a multi-disciplinary team approach to pain.

“Associate Prof Tillman Boesel, who is a visiting pain management specialist with Orthopaedics ACT, sees people with this variant of pain.”

Orthopaedics ACT, Woden Specialist Medical Centre, level 2, 90 Corinna Street, Phillip. Call 6221 9320 or visit

Hemp store provides ‘warm and comfy’ clothing

SOUTH Pacific Hemp, Canberra’s first all-hemp store, features a range of versatile clothing to keep you warm and comfortable this winter, says manager Sue Booth.

“Our clothing is designed for wearability and versatility, is breathable, natural and easy to care for,” she says.

“Hemp protects your skin by naturally filtering UV light. It also resists bacterial growth and breathes excellently, preventing odours, and has four times the strength of cotton, plus it won’t weaken when washed.

That’s just the start of what’s on offer at the store, says Sue.

“Our selection of products extends to a unique collection of hemp foods, hemp seed oils, with gorgeous balms and skin creams, babycare, homewares, bags and accessories, fabrics and pet products.”

The store, first opened in March last year, is run by Darren Steinhardt and Brett Walker who also own South Pacific Hydroponics next door, a family business in Canberra for more than 30 years.

Sue says the team is always pleased to help customers explore the extensive range.

“Come ask us about what the hemp plant offers, from the benefits of CBD oil to the selection of skincare and beauty products.”

South Pacific Hemp, 84 Wollongong Street, Fyshwick. Call 0431 318898, visit or email


Programs help make daily living easier

Arthritis ACT CEO Rebecca Davey.

ARTHRITIS ACT can support people no matter what type of chronic pain condition they have, says CEO Rebecca Davey.

“Whether it’s musculoskeletal pain, endometriosis, headaches or whatever it may be, we have programs in place to help make everyday lives easier,” she says.

From July 24 and throughout National Pain Week, Rebecca says Arthritis, Pain Support & ME/CFS ACT will host a series of consumer information talks by Canberra pain experts.

“All people have to do is call us so they can join in or if they wish to get a recording of the presentations,” she says.

Rebecca says chronic pain differs from person to person and Arthritis ACT focuses on each individual to help with their own personal needs.  

“Chronic pain affects all parts of a person’s life and we approach supporting the person from a holistic premise,” she says. 

“We run courses and support groups for people living with chronic conditions that help them break down the tasks of daily living so that they don’t exhaust themselves or make their pain worse.

“Exercise and weight management is incredibly important in getting those good hormones going again that are lost when pain is high or consistent.

“It’s great for social interaction as well, which is also key in beating the anxiety and depression lots of chronic pain sufferers [can] go through.”

Arthritis ACT, Pain Support & ME/CFS ACT, 170 Haydon Drive, Bruce. Call 1800 011041 or visit


Physiotherapy offers an ‘effective’ treatment to manage pain

Atlas Phxysiotherapist Sarah Collins

“IT’S estimated 15 to 20 per cent of people suffer back pain in any year, and that 70 to 90 per cent of people will suffer low back pain at some stage in their life,” says owner of Atlas Physiotherapy Roz Penfold.

“Just under 90 per cent of Australians suffer headaches, almost one in five experience migraines and almost 15 per cent of Australians are experiencing arthritis. Anyone who has had this type of pain knows the additional mental and emotional burden it can cause.

“But we need not suffer without hope. Good physiotherapy has been shown to be one of the most effective and safe ways to manage these conditions.”

Roz says the team at Atlas Physiotherapy has extensive experience in managing joint arthritis, neck and back pain, headaches and migraines.

“We will take our time to understand your pain experience and explore with you what your best treatment and management options are,” she says.

“We will discuss with you what factors have led to your pain, and work with you to make a plan to address these concerns.

“We may advise and guide specific exercises, apply manual treatment modalities, suggest how to make adjustments in your personal, work and activity lifestyle which will support your wellbeing.

“In addition to private consultations we have group classes (GLA:d) for people experiencing hip and knee pain.”

Roz says that whether you lead a physically active or sedentary lifestyle you may be presented with chronic pain at some stage, and one of the best things you can do is seek early guidance. 

“When treated early many of these conditions can be managed effectively, allowing you to maintain an active and full life,” she says.

Atlas Sports and Dance Physiotherapy, 30 Lonsdale Street, Braddon. Call 6248 5505 or visit

Felicia Darbyshire-Pirie of Pilates Centre Canberra.

Rebalancing with personally tailored Pilates classes

OWNER of The Pilates Centre Canberra, Felicia Darbyshire-Pirie says she’s proud that the centre provides pilates sessions that focus on each individual.

“We believe in quality over quantity,” says Felicia, a pilates instructor of more than 15 years.

“Pilates is total body strengthening, conditioning and re-balancing, which is why it’s perfect as rehab. To me it’s a combination of intuition and science that helps people achieve goals.

From two weeks post-spinal surgery all the way through to high-performing, advanced clients, Felica says the centre welcomes anyone regardless of experience or fitness level. 

“A body that is in pain needs time, space and re-education to recover. Each individual’s pain journey is different and therefore we are never comparing one person to another,” she says.

She believes a good instructor is what makes all the difference.

“We only hire really high-quality instructors with really good qualifications,” she says.

“At the Pilates Centre we often work with pain specialists such as osteopaths and physiotherapists for client goals. 

“I like to say Pilates is the perfect training partner for everything, especially for life.”

The Pilates Centre Canberra, 58 Colbee Court, Phillip. Call 6162 1793, or visit

Higher Function CEO Janet Fabbri with a client.

Educated ways of dealing with pain

PAIN is complex and understanding that it is related to stress, rather than body tissue damage is a very difficult concept to accept, says Higher Function CEO and musculoskeletal physiotherapist Janet Fabbri.

“Neuro Orthopaedic Institute Australasia is a group of physiotherapists and pain neuroscientists dedicated to changing the way pain is viewed,” she says.

“All of our physios are trained in this highly researched and current evidence-based practice. They provide ‘healthy notions of self through neuroscience knowledge’ worldwide.”

Janet says there are currently five critical conceptual change issues that underpin this: injury or disease does not mean that you feel pain, the nervous system moves and stretches as we move, pain, stress and performance are outputs of the brain, knowledge and movement are the greatest pain and stress liberators and nervous system plasticity gives new hope and technique.

“We incorporate this education into all of our physiotherapy and exercise physiology sessions as well as our clinical exercise classes,” says Janet.

“We take the time to do this education, so our sessions are often longer than you may have had with previous therapists.

“We want to make you independent and not need to keep coming for passive hands-on treatment, as this has been shown to not be effective in the long term.”

Higher Function Physio & Pilates, Suite 4, Level 1/23 Petrie Plaza. Call 6262 9664 or visit

Eureka Horse Wisdom equine reiki table.

Finding calm and self-healing with horses

EUREKA Horse Wisdom, in Moss Vale, offers exceptional experiences with horses that support people to find calm and self-healing, says owner Soo Woods.

“We support people predominantly by working through emotional pain,” she says.

“Trapped emotional pain can also result in physical symptoms and thus we are able to support people in trying to find the root cause of their clinical symptoms, whether that be anxiety, depression, eating disorders, stress or physical concerns.”

The business has been running for eight years, helping people to feel better, calmer and more equipped to cope with life’s challenges through equine therapy and equine reiki.

“I am currently working on the potential to offer packages so people can stay on site at the stables or bed and breakfast in the farm house, and also have one or more equine experiences,” says Soo.

Eureka Horse Wisdom, 674 Nowra Road, Moss Vale. Call 0411 623 479, or visit

Practice principal Greg Nash.

Get to pain before it becomes chronic, says Greg

WHEN it comes to pain, Manuka Woden Physiotherapy and Sports Injury Clinic can help manage a problem early, before it turns into chronic pain, says owner Greg Nash.

“When it comes to  acute pain, it is important to identify the painful area so you can then take the appropriate steps to help prevent chronic pain,” he says.

“After thorough assessment we can take steps to alleviate the problem and ensure that the problem does not reoccur. We teach patients about their problem and how to manage it.”

The clinic can help with injuries such as neck and back pain, shoulder, knee pain and injuries sustained at work, following car accidents or sports injuries.

Greg says that both the Manuka and Woden clinics offer an after-hours service and have onsite parking. 

“We have been helping the Canberra community for over 40 years and offer expert advice in the management of injuries,” he says.

“We take great pride in providing a personal experience for clients. We  know our clients by name and they know that they can rely on us for excellent care and service.

“We don’t just treat the injury, we treat the whole person.”

Manuka Woden Physiotherapy Sports Injury Clinic, 2/26 Bougainville Street, Manuka, call 6295 6896 and 3/48 Corinna Street, Woden, call 6281 1382.

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