April 2020 Newsletter
From our Executive Director, Maria Hudspith
The COVID-19 pandemic and the necessary associated physical distancing measures are having a tremendously negative impact on Canadians who live with chronic pain. Now, more than ever, people in pain need accessible and safe options for care, movement, empowerment and connection. As part of our rapid response to the needs of our community, Pain BC has launched a new series of free live-stream events for people living with persistent pain during COVID-19.

The first of two offerings are our Gentle Movement @ Home sessions, which provide guided movement and relaxation for people living with pain from the comfort of their homes. Sessions are designed to help people in pain learn how to feel safe to move again, and are led by physiotherapists who have completed Pain BC’s Gentle Movement and Relaxation program . We launched our first session on April 6 and the feedback from participants has been overwhelmingly positive. Upcoming session dates and times can be found here .

Our second offering, Mindful Hand Drumming @ Hom e , provides a safe and fun way for our community of people in pain to connect and reduce stress through mindful hand drumming sessions. Sessions are led by Alexandra Jai, a drumming and yoga teacher at Rhythm Bliss , and no drum or musical experience are required to participate. We launched our first session on April 8 and participants reported finding the session fun, relaxing and therapeutic. If you live with pain, I encourage you to try something new and register for an upcoming session .

Both @ Home offerings are delivered live through  Zoom and are available to all Canadians living with persistent pain. Sessions are also simultaneously live-streamed on our  Facebook page  and recordings will be available afterwards on our  YouTube channel .

I’m also excited to share that our Pain Support and Wellness Groups are now available online. British Columbians with pain can sign up for an online group serving people with pain in the region in which they live. We’re also offering a new, first-of-its-kind group for self-identified men with pain. All groups meet on the second and fourth Tuesday of the month and anyone without internet access can dial in by phone. Register now to join an online group .

We are committed to seeking new opportunities to provide our community with support to manage pain during this challenging time and will provide additional updates as our emerging work continues to unfold. If you are struggling, or have ideas for how we could be better meeting our community’s needs during this time, please be sure to get in touch . We’re in this with you.
National public consultation on chronic pain
Share your input with the Canadian Pain Task Force by May 29, 2020

To effectively address the issue of chronic pain in our country, Canadians impacted by pain need to be heard.

That is why we're excited to share that the Canadian Pain Task Force recently launched a national public consultation on chronic pain, providing a critical opportunity for Canadians to share their experiences, needs and ideas for an improved approach to pain care, treatment and prevention in Canada. The online consultation is open to anyone with an interest in pain, including people with lived experience of pain, caregivers, health care providers, researchers, policy makers and the general public. The survey will take approximately 15 to 30 minutes to complete and includes questions on barriers to addressing pain, ways to better understand, prevent and manage chronic pain, and informing and improving Canada’s approach to pain.

Your voice is instrumental to driving national action on pain and we encourage you to share your input. The online consultation also includes a section where you can share your personal experience with pain and/or read the experiences of others who live with or are impacted by pain in some capacity.

If you are interested in learning more about the Task Force’s work, we encourage you to read this recent Pain BC blog post which provides a summary of recent consultations, initiatives, and other engagements that are underway as part of its three-year mandate.
COVID resources for people in pain
Pain BC's live-stream events for people in pain during physical distancing

Gentle Movement @ Home: Guided movement and relaxation for pain during COVID-19

Gentle Movement @ Home live-streaming sessions provide guided movement and relaxation designed to help people with persistent pain learn to feel safe to move again. Topics include breath awareness and regulation, body tension regulation, and movement and relaxation techniques in both seated and standing positions. R egister for an upcoming session below or access recordings from past sessions.
Mindful Hand Drumming @ Home: Stress reduction for pain during COVID-19

Mindful Hand Drumming @ Home live-streaming sessions provide a free, safe and fun way for our community of people in pain to connect, relax and try creative new approaches to manage pain and well-being. Sessions include breathwork, mindfulness-based exercises, stretching, seated and/or standing movements and gentle body drumming. No drum or musical experience is required to participate. Register for an upcoming session on April 22 at 1:30PM PST. You can also access recordings from past sessions .
Coping with pain and anxiety during COVID-19
Upcoming Pain BC webinar: Monday, April 27 at 12:00pm PST

The current COVID-19 health crisis can serve as an additional source of anxiety for people who live with chronic pain. When anxiety is left unmanaged, it can interfere with an individual's health, well-being and ability to function in daily life. Given the known association between anxiety and pain, it's important to be aware of how to manage thoughts and behaviours that can contribute to pain intensity.

Join psychologist Dr. Angie Ji for a free webinar on Monday, April 27 at 12:00PM as she discusses the relationship between anxiety and pain and shares several coping strategies people in pain can utilize to manage anxiety, and in turn pain, during this time of uncertainty. This webinar is open to both people with lived experience of pain and health care providers interested in learning more about coping strategies to share with clients.
New episode of our Pain Waves podcast

Catastrophizing: How it relates to pain and the current coronavirus pandemic

When dealing with an unfamiliar or stressful situation like the current coronavirus pandemic, it's not uncommon to think of the worst possible outcomes, which is sometimes referred to as "catastrophizing". While catastrophizing can lead to increased feelings of stress and anxiety for people who already live with complex health conditions, it can also be a useful tool when well-managed.

In our newest Pain Waves podcast, we’re joined by Dr. Bronnie Lennox Thompson, a world-renowned pain educator and researcher based out of New Zealand. She talks to us about what catastrophizing is, how it relates to pain and the current coronavirus pandemic, and shares tips on how people in pain can manage catastrophic thoughts and take care of themselves during this public health emergency.
COVID-19 news and resources for people in pain: Pain BC blog

The growing concern over the community transmission of COVID-19 can be overwhelming, but please know that you're not alone with pain.

We've put together a list of news, information and resources specifically for people in pain that can be helpful during this time. The list includes recent changes to pharmacy prescribing practices that will enable pharmacists to refill prescription medications without a renewed prescription from a doctor. Please note that this list will be updated regularly as more information and resources become available.
Health Canada temporary exemptions on prescribing opioid medications

In response to the evolving COVID-19 situation, Health Canada has issued temporary exemptions to maintain access for people with pain who are currently taking opioid medications. The exemption enables Canadian pharmacists to extend or refill opioid medications without a renewed prescription, transfer opioid prescriptions to other pharmacists as needed and deliver opioid medications to people in pain who are self-isolating at home. The full exemption notice can be read at the link below. Please note that your pharmacist may not yet be aware of these changes and you may need to share this information with them.
Pain BC programs, resources and opportunities
The following programs and initiatives are funded, in whole or in part, by the Province of British Columbia: Coaching for Health, Chronic pain management workshops for allied health care providers, Gentle Movement and Relaxation Course, Live Plan Be, Making Sense of Pain, Pain BC's monthly webinars for health care providers, Pain Foundations, Pain Support Line and Pain Waves podcast.
Our supports for people with pain
Access our free pain self-management resources, including evidence-based articles, assessment tools, and an anonymous discussion forum .
Connect with a trained volunteer to talk about your pain, get help with finding a new physician, find information on community resources, and much more.
Join an online group and build a community of support while learning about pain, pain management and coping strategies.
Receive one-on-one phone support and mentorship from a coach who will help you learn about self-management, regaining function and improving your well-being.
Pain Support and Wellness Groups: Now online
Groups meet every second and fourth Tuesday of the month

To support physical distancing, our in-person Pain Support Groups have moved online . Groups can now be accessed by Zoom  videoconferencing from a computer, smartphone or tablet, or by calling in from a telephone. People in pain can now access an online meeting in the following regions:

  • Fraser Valley
  • Kootenays
  • Northern BC
  • Okanagan/Cariboo
  • Tri-Cities/New Westminster
  • Vancouver, Burnaby, Richmond
  • Vancouver Island

We're also offering a new men's group - the only support group in BC designed to specifically address the issues and needs of men living with pain. The group is facilitated by men with lived experience of pain and is open to self-identified men from any region of the province.

We would greatly appreciate if you could share this with anyone in pain who would benefit from attending an online group. Thank you!
Upcoming Pain BC and partner workshops, webinars and courses for health care providers
BC ECHO for Chronic Pain
This new and free virtual learning community brings together specialists and community health care providers from around the province to learn together from complex pain cases.

Upcoming session:

Pain management in the time of COVID
  • Date and time: April 21, 2020 from 6-8pm PST
  • Presenters: Dr. Karen Ng, pharmacist, and Dr. Angie Ji, psychologist
  • Topics: Identifying distress within health care professionals during the COVID-19 pandemic and what do about it; Caring for patients on pharmacotherapy for pain during COVID

Gentle Movement and Relaxation course
This free, online course will equip physiotherapists and other therapeutic movement professionals with practical knowledge and teaching resources to lead their own movement and relaxation programs for people living with chronic pain.

The Gentle Movement and Relaxation course is currently available to BC health care providers only.

Pain Foundations
This online course is designed to address the challenges faced by health care providers of all disciplines when assessing and treating people living with chronic pain. The course is free for health care providers in BC; a pricing structure for other geographical locations is coming soon.

Other programs, opportunities and resources
Research survey: How is COVID-19 impacting Canadians with chronic pain?

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the everyday lives of all Canadians, including the one in five with chronic pain. Researchers from the University of Montréal and University of Québec are studying the impacts of COVID-19 on people with chronic pain. If you’re a Canadian living with pain, this is an opportunity to share how the pandemic and associated restrictions have impacted your pain experience, treatment, daily living and well-being. Survey respondents must be:

  • Canadian residents
  • Aged 18 or older
  • Fluent in French or English
  • Living with pain for more than three months

Results from this study will help to improve the understanding of how the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting people who living with pain in Canada and will inform strategies for addressing the challenges.
The survey should take approximately 20-25 minutes to complete and can be accessed at the link below.
UBC Pharmacists Clinic accepting referrals for free virtual care

The UBC Pharmacists Clinic has transitioned to virtual services and is able to provide support to people in pain who are on complex drug therapies and need extra time with a pharmacist. Its services are available for free and can be accessed by phone or secure videoconference. People with chronic pain who would like to request an appointment with a pharmacist can do so through this secure email link or by calling 604-827-2584.
Free online health chats for children and adolescents with pain
The Comfort Ability offers regular and free online chats for children and adolescents with chronic pain and their parents, providing a safe place to ask questions, discuss concerns and offer each other support. Check out the link below for a full list of upcoming chat dates and times.
Free online mindfulness classes: Oxford Mindfulness Centre

In light of the current global health crisis, the Oxford Mindfulness Centre is offering free, weekly online mindfulness classes to the general public. Sessions are held via Zoom videoconferencing and no previous experience with mindfulness is required to attend. Previous sessions are recorded and shared at the same link below.
Canadian Arthritis Patient Alliance: New pain resources
The   Canadian Arthritis Patient Alliance   (CAPA) has published two helpful tools highlighting free resources for people with pain and recommendations for policy makers on how to support improved pain care.

The information in these tools is based on the results of an online survey CAPA generated in 2018 to better understand the unintended consequences of opioid policy changes on people living with pain.
In the news
$300 monthly aid announced for British Columbians on income, disability assistance during COVID-19
People with pain who receive income and disability assistance will receive an additional $300 supplement for the months of April, May and June as additional financial support during COVID-19. No application is required and the benefit will be applied beginning April 22, 2020. 
Navigating COVID-19 with an anxious mind
A person with lived experience shares some helpful insight on how to manage feelings of anxiety during this challenging time.
That discomfort you're feeling is grief
A grief expert shares some critical thoughts on how we can acknowledge, manage and find meaning from feelings of grief during this time of uncertainty.
Physicians in BC now available via virtual care
All BC physicians are now available to provide care to patients using telephone or video during the COVID-19 pandemic, in addition to providing in-person care when necessary.
To my able-bodied family and friends who miss life before COVID-19
The author of this article writes an open letter about how, in light of the global pandemic, the needs of people living with pain and invisible illnesses are finally being seen and heard.
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