THIS week is National Pain Week (July 27 to August 2) highlighting chronic pain - pain that doesn't go away after the injury or illness has resolved and lasts at least three months.
According to Chronic Pain Australia, chronic pain is one of the world's fastest growing medical conditions and is a significant issue affecting Australians, with over 3.2 million Australians of all ages living with this invisible illness.
Chronic Pain Australia is encouraging Australians to learn about pain and how to manage it, as well as better understand what it is like for someone living with chronic pain in case they develop pain themselves in later life.
Mary, 58, from Grose Wold, in Sydney's north west, had a car accident six years ago where she developed a bone fracture which eventually healed but she developed complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS).
To try and manage her pain and understand it Mary saw numerous health practitioners and received different advice along the way.
Eventually the pain started to spread into other areas of Mary's body and the pain became quite horrific. One of Mary's turning points was a pain education program at Royal North Shore Hospital.
She said it was one of the key turning points to improve her quality of life, and now a multidisciplinary health team and education help Mary manage her pain.
"They taught me to self-manage and accept the pain, as well as strategies on how to desensitise myself, including breathing techniques and stretching," Mary told the Gazette.
She said Australian health professionals needed more training in pain education.
"I want front-liners to be educated on chronic pain and refer patients to pain specialists," Mary said.
Chronic Pain Australia has released new resources about pain management and seeking help on its website at www.nationalpainweek.org.au.