Chronic pain has considerable impacts to the patient and healthcare system. In Canada, the latest estimates suggest that one in five Canadians are currently living with chronic pain. The annual cost of healthcare and societal impacts related to chronic pain is estimated to be $7.2 billion. Therefore, due to the prevalence of people living with chronic pain and considerable financial costs, we must understand and help people improve the ability to manage their pain.
Chronic pain is typically characterized by pain in one or more body areas lasting for longer than three months. People also often have significant emotional distress such as depression, fatigue, anxiety and poor sleep. Both physical and emotional issues can result in functional impairment and impact a person's ability to live a healthy and fulfilling life.
Occupational therapists (OTs) work with clients to assess and evaluate the impact of pain on a person's ability to engage in occupations or activities. OTs support clients and help them manage their pain to continue to complete their daily activities. Occupational therapy interventions to improve function and reduce pain may include:
education and coaching about the benefits of energy conservation
practicing positive self-talk to help control pain symptoms and focuses attention away from pain, known as distraction
supporting the use of relaxation and stress management strategies such as light exercise or breathing exercises
assessing and modifying the home environment
recommending adaptive technologies
modify tasks or activities such as laundry and cooking
education on more efficient ways to get things done
design and create splints
education on swelling or edema management, benefits of massage, hot/cold compresses
Reference: Canadian Pain Task Force (2019) Government of Canada. http://bit.ly/3rZ8xox