A new approach to controlling severe pain is helping a Nottinghamshire father lead a fuller life.
Thirty-nine-year-old Malcolm Webb, from Arnold, is encouraging people who live with severe pain to try a combined approach to managing chronic pain rather than accept limitations or rely on prescription drugs.
The community pain management service was introduced across Nottingham in 2017 and commenced this month in Mansfield and Ashfield. There has been a similar service in Newark & Sherwood for a number of years, which continues under this change.
Patients benefit from a new approach to managing pain and increasing mobility that uses a combination of exercise, psychology and personal lifestyle advice to help them achieve more independence and overall wellbeing.
For Malcolm, who started the programme last year, the experience has been transformational. He said: “Just under a year ago I needed crutches every time I set foot out of the door and would carry them wherever I went.
“I started using them as a support when I was in pain but I just got more and more dependent on them over time. By the time I heard about the new pain management course I couldn’t walk longer than ten minutes without being in agony.”
Malcolm suffers with a bone condition called spinal stenosis that causes a narrowing of the spaces within the spine. This can put pressure on the nerves that travel through the spine, causing pain and weakness.
When he was younger Malcolm was a keen weightlifter but lately found that he was not able to complete even basic tasks without strong pain medication.
“I tried lots of different kinds of medication and had some bad experiences with side effects. Feeling dizzy and light-headed all the time was the worst. One day I passed out on my feet in the house. It made me realise I couldn’t rely on drugs to get well.”
The NHS pain management service in Nottinghamshire is provided by a local community organisation called PICS (Primary Integrated Care Services Limited), who deliver a number of NHS services. The programme offers 1-1 support, physiotherapy as well as group mobility classes and lifestyle advice.
The community service, which transferred from Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust on 4 March, offers care and advice at community locations across Nottingham and Nottinghamshire.
Clinics are located in accessible local community settings and staffed by multidisciplinary teams including consultants, physiotherapists and pain practitioners who can provide access to a range of chronic pain treatments, tailored to individual needs. Most patients find this more convenient than visiting the hospital.
Malcolm, who attended 1-1 physiotherapy sessions at his local leisure centre, before joining a group mobility class, added: “I saw real improvements from the sessions and lost about four stone through the exercises and diet advice.
“My aim is to gradually get off medication and lose more weight so I can take up weightlifting again and enjoy more activities with my family.”
A number of patients who were previously treated for pain management at Kings Mill Hospital are transferring into the new service. However, those who require acute medical care such as specialist injections will be able to access treatment at the Hospital in the same way. Patients will remain under the care of Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust until they are personally contacted.
Dr Gavin Lunn, Clinical Lead, Mansfield and Ashfield CCG said: “This new service enables patients to receive treatment in a community setting away from hospital, and will hopefully make their lives easier by reducing the distance they have to travel.
“Patients in South Nottinghamshire and Newark already benefit from this community service, which is very caring and highly efficient in helping with complex cases.”
“We recognise this is a change for many people, but we would like to reassure patients that the new provider will offer patients the most effective treatment for their individual needs.
“The most important thing is to get the right treatment for each person. There are lots of clinical and psychological options available. Specialist staff will work with patients referred to the service to look at causes and triggers for their pain in order to help them manage it and hopefully improve their lives.”
Dr Kelvin Lim Clinical Director, PICS, said: “PICS, as an organisation, is committed to ensuring that patients receive the very best healthcare. We are pleased to be working in partnership with the CCG’s and other healthcare providers, including patients’ GPs to ensure this happens.
“We will ensure that patients referred to PICS are seen in a timely manner and receive the most appropriate treatment and guidance. Patients will benefit from a professional, caring administration team and a clinical team that is well recognised for achieving good clinical outcomes.”
The new service has been designed with support from patients with experience of using pain management services as well as a range of local clinicians.
If patients have any questions about the new service then they can contact the CCGs’ Patient Experience Team on 0800 0283693 (option 1).
The NHS Long Term Plan, published in January, highlights low back and neck pain as the greatest cause of years lost to disability, with chronic joint pain or osteoarthritis affecting over 8.75 million people in the UK. Over 30 million working days are lost due to musculoskeletal (MSK) conditions every year in the UK and they account for 30% of GP consultations in England.