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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    Are there any non-medication alternatives for managing chronic pain?

    I have constant pain in my ankle after a very bad sports injury. I have had surgery 3 times but I have been told I may need to learn to live with the pain. What options are available to me other than strong pain killers?
  • Find a professional to answer your question

  • 1


    Chronic Pain Australia incorporated in 2006 to become a strong voice for Australians experiencing chronic pain. Chronic Pain Australia was a lead organisation in developing … View Profile

    Many people find that surgical or other medical intervention, injury or illness leaves them with ongoing pain. There are a number of non-medical alternatives.  The approach is to minimise inflammatory processes, and optimally use medicines, and not do too much or too little. Its helpful to learn about the “anti-inflammatory lifestyle”: from the Hunter Integrated Pain Service. You probably find that doing anything for long periods of time (like walking for long distances) makes your pain worse. People can go too hard and then “pay for it” later. This is not a good strategy. Doing little bits often is more successful for many people.  Choosing a supportive clinician such as a physiotherapist who understands neuroplasticity and CNS sensitivity is a good start. Read as much as you can about how pain works  and become and active participant in the management of your pain. People do succeed if they stay really well informed. See the answer to “What is the best way to manage chronic pain?”

  • 1


    Brad McGregor

    Exercise Physiologist

    Brad is an exercise physiologist specialising in musculoskeletal rehabilitation. Clients include Workcover Qld, Commonwealth Rehabilitation Services and other private insurers. He has worked with athletes … View Profile

    If the cause of the pain is inflammation you could try consuming pineapple which contains a natural antiinflammatory - brolelain.

  • 1


    Dr Greg Sher


    I am the Clinic Director of the Sydney Spine and Sports Clinic.At our clinic, we see an equal mix of city office workers and elite … View Profile

    Trauma and surgery (as well as genetics) are the most likely reasons to develop Osteo-arthritis of a joint, which can be very stiff and painful. 
    Although there is not much you can do about the damage already done, you can start a regime to try prevent further degenerative change (or at least slow it down). 
    1) A movement and exercise programme is a very beneficial first step (A chiropractor could adjust or mobilise the stiff ankle joint), as well as retraining your balance. 
    2) Supplementation to offer joint support: There is a growing body of evidence that glucosamine and chondroiten are helpful, and when in pain, MSM can be added to the mix. Be aware it is derived from a seafood (crab) source, so watch it if you have allergies. 
    Bromelein is also very good as mentioned above. 

  • 1


    Neil Synnott

    Exercise Physiologist, Physiotherapist

    I am qualified as a PHYSIOTHERAPIST and ACCREDITED EXERCISE PHYSIOLOGIST.I primarily use the McKENZIE METHOD for assessment and management of musculoskeletal pain disorders. The McKENZIE … View Profile


    Your persistent ankle pain may well be related to an untreated restriction in the ankle, knee, hip or commonly unmanaged low back problem. You may even not have a complaint of a low back problem, however a restriction in the low back can place tension on the nerves that which run down your leg. This scenarior oftens occurs despite no complaint of low back pain!

    If you look at a diagram of where the sciatic nerve leaves your low back and then travels (and turns into other nerves throughout the leg) down your leg, you can see how some unmanaged nerve tension can be related to your problem.

    My suggestion would be seek out a credentialled McKenzie physiotherapist - a list of practitioners is listed at - they are available in most states of Australia.

    A McKenzie physiotherapist will look for restricted movements through your low back, hip, knee and ankle to see what is contributing and advise you a very specific exercise program. When the exercises are followed regularly, persistent pain can change very rapidly.

    Once the restricted movements have been improved, I agree with Dr Sher's comments regarding a movement and exercise program for strengthening and improving the proprioception of your ankle.

    Best wishes with your recovery!

    Regards, Neil 

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