Making pain management possible



Too many Canadians suffer from pain. In fact, over 80% develop lumbago—stabbing lower back pain—and 3% of the population will be diagnosed with fibromyalgia, which is a complex and misunderstood chronic pain syndrome. But there is a new weapon in the fight against persistent aches: the Programme d'apprentissage de stratégies d'autogestion efficacies (PASSAGE). Close to 40% of program participants felt that the PASSAGE self-management strategies cut their pain by half.

A positive attitude in spite of the pain makes symptom management easier.

PASSAGE is the outcome of work by a team led by Patricia Bourgault at the Centre de recherche du Centre hospitalier universitaire de Sherbrooke in collaboration with researchers at Université du Québec en Abitibi-Témiscamingue. Their objective was to provide fibromyalgia patients and lower back pain sufferers with efficient means to manage their pain and become experts on their particular conditions. For example, according to Patricia Bourgault, a positive attitude in spite of the pain makes symptom management easier.

The program is voluntary and participants are assigned to groups of eight. Healthcare professionals (physiotherapists, psychologists, occupational therapists, etc.) trained by the research team conduct a series of meetings to impart symptom management strategies such as physical exercise and relaxation techniques and provide information on the proper use of medication and how to better handle stress.

Since 2011, the PASSAGE program has had much success in several health care and rehabilitation centres across Québec and has even begun to make waves. In fact, Patricia Bourgault was recently approached by a research group in New Brunswick that is seeking to implement the program and was asked to develop adapted programs for other types of chronic pain and specifically for seniors, who are more prone to episodes of pain.