Rochdale News | News Headlines | Public health campaign targets Middleton to support one in five locals living with long-term health problems

Date published: 20 July 2022

Industry-leading pain experts, specialist clinicians and local residents who live with chronic pain will be hosting a free event at Middleton Popstars Academy on Wednesday 20 July, to support those affected by the debilitating condition.

Around 21% of people in the Rochdale borough, significantly higher than the English average of 17%, live with a long-term musculoskeletal health condition, including chronic pain. The same study also found that 55% of locals (English average of 51%) have a long-standing health condition.

Panel members for the Middleton workshop include pain scientist Professor Cormac Ryan and Shelley Turner. A chronic pain specialist, Shelley also lives with pain caused by spinal surgery, endometriosis and EDS (Ehlers-Danlos syndrome), which can be felt across her whole body and acutely in her lower back, hips and abdomen.

The 43-year-old has worked within local community pain management services in the Rochdale borough for the past four years, after her role as a theater nurse became too physically demanding for her. She will be giving her unique personal and clinical insight during the talk – including how working through the pain management program allowed her to better accept and understand her pain, the techniques she uses to maintain control and the ways she’s benefited, opening her up to new experiences and hobbies.

Shelley, who has experienced chronic pain since her teens, explained: “When I first joined the pain team, I didn’t really have much of a life outside of work. Delivering the program really opened my eyes to the possibility of regaining control and since then I haven’t looked back. Now nothing stops me – whether it’s joining a gym session, taking a Pilates class or climbing up a ladder to muck in with a painting job.

“I think this event is really exciting for the area. I’m hoping it will empower people, and help them increase their knowledge and understanding, so they can manage their chronic pain better and take control of it. Overall, I hope it helps to improve their quality of life and allow them to engage in meaningful activities.”

The event, running from 6.30-8pm, comes hot on the heels of a two-day ‘Brain Bus’ tour in early July, led by the public health movement, Flippin Pain, in partnership with NHS Greater Manchester Integrated Care.

On Thursday 7 July and Friday 8 July, more than 120 people at Middleton Gardens and Rochdale Riverside Retail and Leisure respectively, visited the interactive ‘Brain Bus Experience’ for themselves.

Crowds gathered to witness and participate in a number of visual and sensory illusions including a virtual ‘walk the plank.’ On-hand healthcare professionals talked to visitors about some of the lesser-known ways that the human brain and our senses work, and the relevance this has on what we experience every day, including when it comes to pain. Many audience members agreed that it helped them ‘to think about pain differently.’

Dr Sonal Sharma, a GP from Rochdale and Clinical Lead (Heywood, Middleton and Rochdale) at NHS Greater Manchester Integrated Care, said: “A huge number of people’s lives are negatively affected by long-term pain. Our local healthcare services and clinicians are committed to doing all that they can to provide support, but in many cases pain still persists despite the best medical advice or treatment.

“HMR are pleased to be hosting a series of public events and activities with public health campaign Flippin’ Pain to support people to develop a better understanding of their pain in the hope that they also feel more empowered and equipped to improve their quality of life. “

Richard Pell, campaign director for Flippin’ Pain, concluded: “Our tour in Middleton and Rochdale really highlighted that local people are keen to understand more about chronic pain and specifically what is within their control to make positive change.

“We urge anyone who has not yet had a chance to sign-up to the event to do so and come along. And whilst it may be tricky for some to join, recordings from the session will be available for them to watch back at their convenience.”

Sign up, learn more and watch back the Middleton seminar on Wednesday 20 July here.

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