Pain management

St John of God Subiaco Hospital is the only private hospital in Western Australia with a seven-day-a-week pain service.

Person holding their lower back in pain, as it radiates with bright red colour.

This means patients who require urgent pain management can be admitted to the hospital by their pain specialist for an interventional procedure or acute care on short notice. Hospital inpatients can also be easily referred to the pain service via their treating specialist, eliminating prolonged wait times.

We are also the only private hospital in WA which employs a pain nurse practitioner who is qualified to undertake advanced pain assessments, prescribe pain medications, order diagnostic tests, and refer patients to other health care providers. Our pain management team also comprises three highly skilled clinical pain nurses, and a team of surgical nurses who rotate through the interventional procedural pain list. 

Additionally, our hospital benefits from the expertise of the largest cohort of accredited pain medicine specialists in WA who are supported by highly experienced consultants with an interest in acute pain medicine.

Pain is defined as an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience, and is unique to each and every one of us. 

Although pain is often associated with current or potential tissue damage, it may also be experienced long after tissue damage has healed. 

The experience of pain can be affected by anxiety, fear, depression, receiving bad news, poor sleep and withdrawal from caffeine, nicotine, alcohol or other drugs.

Members of our hospital’s pain management team will work closely with you to ensure the cause of your pain is identified and managed as effectively and efficiently as possible, helping to improve your quality of life.

Pain is identified as either acute or chronic. 

Acute pain usually occurs after an illness or injury, or as a result of a medical procedure such as surgery. It usually lessens or resolves once you have recovered or healed.

Nerve pain is a specific type of acute pain experienced as burning, shooting, electric shocks, cold, pins and needles, and numbness. Early identification of the cause of this pain and effective treatment may reduce the risk of it progressing to chronic pain

Chronic pain is any pain experienced for more than three months and can include back pain, neck pain, knee and shoulder pain, repetitive strain injury and neurological pain syndromes. 

The longer you have pain the more persistent and resistant to treatment it may become due to a process called central sensitisation.

Included below are interesting facts about chronic pain:

  • Chronic pain affects approximately 3.4 million Australians or one in five people.
  • 40% of early retirement is due to chronic pain.
  • Suicidal behaviour is two to three more times likely to be demonstrated by people experiencing chronic pain.
  • The most common chronic pain reported is osteoarthritis and back issues, followed by musculoskeletal problems, other arthritis conditions, neurological disorders and cancer.

St John of God Subiaco Hospital’s comprehensive pain service was established in 2008, and has continually evolved over the years to align with best practices and latest regulatory standards.  

Members of our team may provide you a pain management plan which includes:

  • education and strategies to help you understand and manage your pain
  • medications specific to your pain management requirements
  • specialised interventional pain procedures that may be helpful in reducing your pain
  • physical therapy and activity modification to reduce factors making pain worse and to enhance function and mobility
  • pastoral care to assist you and your family to adjust and cope with your pain.

Interventional pain services 

You may be referred to one of our interventional pain specialists by your treating doctor or general practitioner.

Interventional pain procedures alleviate pain in the short and long-term and have become accepted methods of reducing high-dose and extended opioid prescriptions. This has increased their popularity amongst referrers and patients.

Our hospital’s specialists perform a wide range of approved interventional pain procedures which are currently undertaken internationally.

Interventional pain procedures are generally undertaken in our hospital’s Short Stay Unit. The facility includes two operating theatres which are primarily dedicated to pain.

Acute pain services

Our specialists have strong relationships with members of the pain team. They regularly refer inpatients who are experiencing acute pain to the service to assist with their patients’ comfort and recovery, particularly following surgery. 

Referral to the service for acute pain can:

  • provide early access to pain management post-surgery or when patients are admitted to hospital experiencing acute pain
  • manage adverse side effects of pain medications
  • help ensure patients are discharged on-time and in comfort 
  • optimise the patient experience.

Complex and chronic pain services

Chronic and complex services are also offered to patients with complex pain conditions who may require multidisciplinary specialist management.

Multidisciplinary team support

To ensure individualised care that is specific to your needs, you may be referred to other services as part of your pain management plan. Care may also be delivered by:

  • physiotherapists
  • occupational therapists
  • pastoral care members 
  • palliative care specialists.

Benefits of receiving timely intervention and a customised pain management plan include:

  • Improvement in your function and activity levels, resulting in quicker recovery after surgery, reduced stay in hospital and a faster return to normal function.
  • Reduced risk of complications including pneumonia, deep vein thrombosis and infections.
  • Better understanding of your pain medication including what to take, how long to take it for and its effects on your body; pain medications are very useful, but have potential short and long term side effects that you must know about.
  • Reduced physical stress on your body.
  • Reduced mental anxiety and low moods.
  • Reduced risk of acute pain progressing to chronic and long term pain. 

Our highly experienced and compassionate pain specialists are committed to ensuring you receive the personalised care and support you need.

To meet our pain specialists, please browse the Find a Specialist tool.