Central Adelaide LHN’s Pain Management Unit provides multidisciplinary approach to treating patients with chronic pain

CALHN’s Pain Management Unit treats around 1700 new outpatients each year with 10-15 per cent of referrals coming from patients with cancer pain.

Nurse Unit Manager Julie Lanzendorfer said the team’s philosophy is patient centred care and they pride themselves on providing a multidisciplinary approach to treat chronic pain.

“Treatment is not just about using medication, but rather a holistic approach where other disciplines are consulted which support the unit,” Ms Lanzendorfer said.  

The team includes specialist pain physicians, nurses, physiotherapists, psychologists and psychiatrists to ensure a biopsychosocial approach.

“Quite often, in order to treat some chronic pain conditions, patients embark on a very long journey where many self-help strategies are learnt and then incorporated into everyday life,” said Ms Lanzendorfer.

Patient Mary Wing’s experience is evidence of this.

For the past 16 years she has suffered with chronic neuropathic pain, following surgery for a spinal fusion.  While she wasn’t treated by CALHN’s Pain Management Unit, she employs the same strategies utilised by the unit to manage her own pain.

“I have bad times where I have flare ups and find distraction and relaxation therapy really helpful,” said Ms Wing.

Determined to find a way to manage her pain, Ms Wing embarked on a self-management course and studied Chronic Condition Management at university.

As a result of her personal experience and knowledge of how functionally debilitating chronic pain can be, she set up the Adelaide Pain Support Network for fellow chronic pain patients.

Assisted by the Adelaide Primary Heath Network, the support group runs monthly sessions at three Adelaide locations including The Queen Elizabeth Hospital, and in recent months due to COVID the group has met virtually via Zoom.

“We don’t sit around and talk about pain,” Ms Wing explained. “We provide education, tools for pain management, have guest speakers and set goals.”  

The Pain Management Unit supports this holistic approach and encourages patients with chronic pain to join. Anyone interested can contact adelaidepsn@adelaidephn.com.au.

The Pain Management Unit is based at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital and services patients from the CALHN metropolitan catchment and over half of rural SA with outreach teams visiting Port Pirie, Whyalla and Port Lincoln. It also supports clinicians and consumers in the Northern Territory with visits to Darwin and Alice Springs.

Pictured: (Left to right) Kym Bauer (Psychologist), Lynda Lotstra (RN), Julie Lanzendorfer (NUM), Marie Dow (Psychologist), Le-Anne Jones (RN).