Case Study: Chronic Back Pain Sufferer Finds Significant Benefits from Pain Management Programme

Scott Hunt, 48, from Hellingly has suffered with chronic back pain for all his adult life. Treatment over the years has included everything from surgery to physiotherapy. Recently he was referred by Sussex MSK Partnership East to a Pain Management Programme, which has significantly helped him to take control of his pain.

Scott is a former senior NHS manager and mental health nurse, a job that eventually became incompatible with his back condition. As the pain deteriorated, his medication increased and he was finally forced to take ill health retirement.

Diagnosed with degenerative disc disease in the lumbar region, Scott worked on keeping mobile and maintaining his core strength in the hope of avoiding surgery, but he eventually underwent a Dynesis procedure to stabilise his spine. This was later removed after two of the screws broke and again the pain increased.

In 2014, Scott’s GP referred him via Sussex MSK Partnership East to Dr Janet McGowen, a Pain Management Consultant. After assessing his back pain and ensuring all other possible medical avenues had been explored, Dr McGowen referred him to the Pain Management Programme.

The Pain Management Programme takes place over six weeks with two sessions per week to help patients with long-term chronic pain to improve their quality of life. It is run by a multi-disciplinary team of health professionals who work closely with patients to educate, guide and support decision making related to pain management. Carers and relatives are also offered support. The treatments included learning about alternative lifestyle choices, relaxation techniques, safe exercising, challenging negative cognitive thinking, building confidence, medication management and most of all, regaining control of decision making.

Since the course Scott is now managing his chronic back pain without medication and is incredibly grateful to the team. He said: “I feel so blessed to have been supported by the programme which has really helped me both physically and mentally through some tough times especially as the back problems had been terribly difficult to deal with and I was struggling to manage in a career I enjoyed greatly.

“We were all treated with the same respect, care, compassion, and honesty and given high level expertise as each other and I now feel more equipped and supported than at any other time with my pain management. I am so grateful to have a service like this so close to home.”

Angela Busuttil, Consultant Clinical Psychologist and Clinical Lead for Sussex MSK Partnership East’s Pain Management Service, commented: “For many people, pain management approaches help to improve quality of life significantly even when pain cannot be cured.

“We have listened to patients and their families. They have told us that earlier access to these approaches is important so we are improving the range of services we offer including an online programme for these who cannot attend weekly due to family and work commitments.”