Chronic Pain Ireland member Sharon Brady and Professor Dominic Hegarty, Consultant in Pain Management & Neuromodulation at the Orthopaedic and Spine Centre, Mater Private Hospital in Cork (Clinical Director Pain Relief Ireland) spoke to Lottie Ryan on the Jennifer Zamparelli show on 2FM as part of our 2023 Pain Awareness Month Campaign.
Every September the global pain community supports Pain Awareness Month which aims to raise awareness of chronic pain and this year Chronic Pain Ireland’s theme is ‘Waking Up to Pain. Throughout the show, Lottie spoke with Chronic Pain Ireland member Sharon Brady who lives with Fibromyalgia and also Professor Hegarty, a Consultant in Pain Management & Neuromodulation at the Mater Private Hospital in Cork (Clinical Director Pain Relief Ireland).
Sharon, who was 26 at the time of her diagnosis, has been living with pain for 5 years. She shares her journey including the fear and anxiety she experienced while trying to figure out what was going on in her body.
“When all the tests came back, I was told there’s nothing wrong with you and I knew that there was. I went for second opinions, got different tests and all were clear”.
Eventually Sharon was referred to a Rheumatologist who, following a series of tests, diagnosed Fibromyalgia. Sharon explains that moment was so bittersweet. Finally, I had a reason, a diagnosis, I wasn’t crazy but I had a sinking feeling as I’d never heard of Fibromyalgia and trying to process this news was difficult. One thing that the Rheumatologist said that stuck with me was:
“It’s not degenerative but it is a lifelong condition”.
Prof. Hegarty explains that awareness of chronic pain is key, he discusses the diagnostic and management dilemmas facing patients and GP’s when they try to manage chronic pain such as fibromyalgia, chronic lower back pain and headaches. He also highlighted the importance of having open discussions on the national airways if the stigma of chronic pain is to be addressed. “Patients need to be shown that there is light at the end of the chronic pain tunnel” says Prof. Hegarty.
“We need to shine a light on all aspects of pain management to ensure that individuals realise that there are options out there for a better quality of life”.
In Europe, 1 in 5 people suffer with chronic pain however in Ireland that figure is higher and up to 1 in 3 people wake up to pain every day. Pain impacts every aspect of a person’s life including social, family, financial, career and can take a toll on mental health and lower self-esteem. Chronic pain and the stigma associated with it can take a heavy personal toll including depression, impact on sleep and becoming more isolated and withdrawn from society.
Chronic Pain Ireland wants people in Ireland to wake up to the facts of chronic pain, which can affect anyone over their lifetime. Learn more about 2023 campaign here