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In this Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents article, Jane Warren explores innovations in the prevention and management of musculoskeletal disorders in the workplace, highlighting Wellmind Health’s NHS-approved online Pain Management Programme, Pathway through Pain, as an effective medication-free alternative to painkillers.

Read the full article in the online ROSPA OS&H Sept/Oct Journal here

Finding a medication-free Pathway through Pain

Increasingly, the NHS is relying upon online Pain Management Programmes (PMPs) to support people suffering from MSDs, and this is likely to increase with the updated draft NICE guidelines on the use of opioids and other strong painkillers to manage chronic pain. Usually PMPs are delivered via formal face-to-face group meetings, and they are increasingly offered by businesses as part of the health and wellness benefits given to their staff.

One of the most recent offerings to make it through the stringent assessments for inclusion on the NHS Apps library is Pathway Through Pain, which is the only clinically validated digital PMP in the world. It joins Wellmind Health’s Be Mindful mindfulness-based cognitive therapy programme on the NHS Apps Library.

The medication-free Pathway - which is available to NHS trusts, employers and individuals – has already guided thousands of people to effective self-management of chronic/persistent musculoskeletal pain.

It is an effective alternative to the prescribing of opioids for chronic pain that has been clinically proven to achieve outstanding and long-term outcomes. It educates patients on pain physiology, pain psychology and pain self-management, and contains elements such as guided practice on exercise, relaxation, mindfulness, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and changing unhelpful ways of thinking.

A 2019 research study, published in the British Journal of Pain, found that patients made significant improvements, and also reported a large average healthcare cost saving of £240 per patient in the year after the intervention. Nearly 80 per cent would recommend the Pathway to others with persistent pain.

“The ability of patients to self-manage chronic pain effectively has become increasingly important since the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic and the need to reduce face-to-face contact,” says Richard Latham, CEO of Wellmind Health.

“I had always thought that ‘there is no simple cure’ to back pain,” says Deborah Prince, who has suffered chronic back pain for 20 years and recently used the online course. "Strangely this is why I really believed in the health care specialists I was introduced to on the programme – they agreed with me. They don’t offer a cure, but they do offer practical advice. All these methods and exercises I had tried before, but it was only when I changed my beliefs about pain and put all the tools the programme offers together, that I began to see positive, lasting results.”

By the end of the online course, Deborah says she had a different perspective. “Changing my thinking helped me to change my life. I still have some pain, but I have now joined a gym, go swimming regularly, go for long walks and have planned a long flight, all things I couldn’t have hoped for last year.”

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Republished with special permission

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