Managing pain is about more than just medication

Pain management is not only about pain medication, because pain is not purely caused by physical or biological factors.[FPM]

The best way of managing pain is using something called a ‘biopsychosocial framework’. Essentially, this means that the biological, psychological and social aspects of a person’s life are taken into account when deciding how best to treat their pain.[FPM}

Pain Treatment




This is particularly important in chronic pain, when there are multiple contributing factors contributing to an individual’s pain at the same time. Not all these factors will respond to pain medications, so a range of treatment approaches are often needed.2

As well as basic medical and nursing support, and pain medications, a biopsychosocial pain management plan may include things like: [1,2,3]

  • Physiotherapy
  • Occupational therapy
  • Psychology
  • Play therapy
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Pain teams can be diverse

In order to deliver the different types of treatment you need, a number of different healthcare professionals may be involved in your pain team.1

  • Specialist medical doctors, like anaesthetists, gynaecologists, or rheumatologists
  • Occupational therapists
  • Surgeons
  • Psychiatrists/psychologists
  • Pharmacists
  • Physiotherapists
  • Nurse specialists
  • Dieticians
  • Rehabilitation therapists
  • Social workers

There may be other experts involved as well, depending on your individual needs, and you should be able to see the right people at the right time and in the right place. Coordinating these different experts creates an ‘multidisciplinary’ pain team for you, who work with you improve your physical functioning and mental health.1, [FPM]

My Pain Care

For most people, pain can be effectively managed in the community by a GP, or by hospital specialists involved in treating the underlying condition. [FPM]

My Pain Care

For most people, pain can be effectively managed in the community by a GP, or by hospital specialists involved in treating the underlying condition. [FPM]

For people with more complex pain, however, a referral to a specialist pain management service may be appropriate. These services are made up of all different kinds of professionals (e.g. doctors, nurses, physiotherapists) who are trained in pain medicine, and see a wide range of patients with complex

Specialist pain management services may be located in the community and/or in hospitals. They should always fit in seamlessly with the other aspects of your care, but be aware that care pathways for people with pain may be different, depending on which UK nation you live in. Referrals are normally done by your GP, your hospital consultant, or senior members of your healthcare professional team.[[1,2,3]]

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Taking control of your pain through education and alternative therapies

Empowering you to take control of your pain is a critical part of pain management. This may include teaching you about your medical condition, explaining what treatment options are available and how they work, supporting you in doing your own research, and suggesting lifestyle changes(e.g. dietary changes).[1,2]

Your healthcare team may also encourage practices like mindfulness meditation, or alternative therapies like acupuncture and hypnosis. Research has shown that self-management approaches that include exercise and Talk Therapy (e.g. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)) are often effective in decreasing pain intensity and duration.[1,2]

Remember that YOU are the most important part of your pain team. As the patient, your needs and individual circumstances are critical to the decision-making process, because your pain will be best managed when the plan works for you.

Access further information on ‘how to talk to your healthcare professional’


  1. Pergolizzi J, et al. Curr Med Res Opin. 2013;29(9):1127–35.
  2. Clauw DJ, et al. Postgrad Med. 2019;131(3):185–98
  3. For Patients and Relatives | Faculty of Pain Medicine (Last accessed April 2023)

M-N/A-UK-04-23-0013-MAY 2023