January 17th, 2021

Share your pain experiences

By Submitted Article on March 20, 2020.

Task force seeking input from Canadians living with chronic pain

Michelle Sauve


Maya Angelou is famously quoted to say, “I’ve learned that even when I have pains, I don’t have to be one.”

When my personal journey with chronic pain began over two years ago, this quote stuck in my mind. I was moved to try and manage my pain without impacting others. Those of you who have experienced chronic pain will likely know how challenging this is.

The impacts of chronic pain can be far-reaching. According to the Canadian Pain Task Force Report (June 2019), “One in five Canadians lives with chronic pain.” The report goes on to note that “when pain persists, it can affect all aspects of one’s life, including work, school, play, caregiving and community participation. Living with unmanaged pain can lead to sleeplessness, hopelessness, depression and anxiety, diminished quality of life, and isolation. For some Canadians, unmanaged pain has led to poverty, homelessness and even suicide.” You can find this report at the “Let’s Talk Health” website.

At the site, it is noted that the Canadian Pain Task Force is leading a national consultation with the aim to help the Government of Canada better understand and address the needs of Canadians who live with pain. If you or someone you know is impacted by chronic pain, the task force would like you to share your experience and ideas on this topic. This consultation will be open online until April 17. You can complete an online questionnaire at https://www.letstalkhealth.ca/pain. The task force intends to use your input to create a report to Health Canada in June 2020. This report will outline elements of an improved approach to pain in Canada.

Along my journey, I have also learned about Alberta Health Services resources and workshops available for people impacted by chronic pain. Through the Alberta Healthy Living Program, you can access a Better Choices Better Health Workshop series specific to chronic pain. This free six-week program can help participants increase their confidence and learn new skills to better manage their pain and enjoy a better quality of life. There is also a workshop called “Explaining Pain” that I found valuable. At this workshop, I gained an understanding of the bodies’ pain system and how I can take control of my day to better manage pain. While each participants experience will be unique, my key take away was that daily physical activity is crucial to my pain level. I left with a “toolbox” of actions that has offered me hope.

The Alberta Healthy Living Program offers many other classes and programs that may support you. You can learn about sleep, stress, nutrition and more! There is even a supervised exercise program. If you want to learn more about the Healthy Living Program in your area, call one of the following numbers:

South East Zone: 403-529-8969 or Toll free 1-866-795-9709.

South West Zone: 403-388-6654 or Toll free 1-866-506-6654.

I want to leave you with an excellent website I came across in writing this this column. The Chronic Pain Primary Health Care Resource Centre at http://www.albertahealthservices.ca has links to videos, a lecture series, resource lists and links to many other websites that I plan to learn more about. There is even a “Pain Toolkit” which offers a free workshop called “Retrain Pain” (www.retrainpain.org). I look forward to learning more about how to do that!

Michelle Sauve is a Tobacco Reduction Counsellor with Alberta Health Services Addiction and Mental Health. She can be reached by email, michelle.sauve@ahs.ca.

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