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Supporting workers with chronic pain

Best practice

Take a collaborative, multidisciplinary approach to support your workers living and working with chronic pain.

  • Place your worker at the centre of their recovery team, which also includes their supervisor and treating medical and allied health practitioners.
  • Listen to their concerns, encourage them to ask questions, engage them to actively participate in developing their own suitable duties plan and identify risks of reinjury.
  • Take action early if your worker feels their recovery is not progressing due to chronic pain. This includes encouraging your worker to contact their insurer to discuss options such as a pain management program or adjustment to injury counselling.

Why this is important

Workers living with chronic pain may feel isolated and misunderstood so it’s important their psychosocial and physical needs are considered in their treatment plan.

Research shows taking this approach to persistent pain will provide the most successful outcomes for workers in terms of increased function1. Open and regular communication between all parties is also key to setting and achieving recovery goals.

Your toolkit

The neuroscience of chronic pain
This podcast from Professor Lorimer Moseley dispels myths about chronic pain and may help you to better understand the perspective of workers living with chronic pain.

Resources - Chronic Pain Australia
Chronic Pain Australia’s website includes information to share with your workers on how to choose a healthcare team, where to go for more support and understanding chronic pain.

If you feel a worker is reluctant to participate in their suitable duties due to chronic pain, this podcast on How to create a mentally healthy workplace culture and reduce stigma may be helpful.

1WorkCover Queensland, Pain intervention guidelines, December 2020.