An interview with Martin Hey, Chair of the Physiotherapy pain Association in the UK.

Martin qualified from Nottingham School of Physiotherapy (remember those ?), he initially worked in rotational posts in Swansea before moving to Leeds to specialize in musculoskeletal problems. He moved to what became the Mid-Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust in 1996 and have been involved in pain management in some shape or form since 1997. In 2002 he was appointed to a full time Clinical Specialist post in Pain Management.  Last January he took the role of Interim Clinical Lead and was given a three year appointment as Clinical Manager of Pain Services following trust reconfiguration in October 2009. He is married with two boys and says that he has an unhealthy support for Leeds United!

Tell me a little bit about the work that you are involved in at the moment?
I have a cross trust remit for the Clinical Management of the Pain Service and all it is involved in. My time is spent evenly between clinical caseload and meetings, paperwork etc.. plus I have a Clinical Service Group training overview role.

How did you get to the work position that you are in today?
I guess that I have been fortunate to find a specialization that I am passionate about, have worked and work with great people, have worked hard and have taken the opportunities that have come along. I have always had immense line management support for what I have done for which I am grateful. I also think there is an element of luck about being in the right place at the right time

What are the most common conditions that you see?
Chronic spinal pain with a mix of nociceptive and neuropathic components is probably 70% of the workload, plus I run a dedicated Complex Regional Pain Syndrome clinic on both outpatient sites across the Trust

What is the most common treatment approach that you use?
Educated and active listening skills underpin anything that is then clinically recommended, plus a willingness to work collaboratively with a patient rather than paternalistically

There seems to be fairly radical understanding of pain through brain research. Where do you see the frontiers of knowledge at the moment and do you see any radical changes in how we understand pain on the horizon?
I believe that functional MRI is teaching us all manner of things plus some of the work on the chemical and endocrine pathophysiology of traits of CRPS may lead to both better understanding and greater treatment options in the future

How can we as physiotherapists better prepare ourselves for managing/helping patients with pain conditions?
In no intended order; more comprehensive undergraduate and postgraduate teaching of pain issues on a more consistent basis, a willingness to embrace the biopsychosocial model and move away from a strict medical model adherence, a willingness to utilize multimodality treatment rather than concentrate on a one-size-fits-all single modality approach and an appreciation of the strengths of signposting patients to useful (accurate and reliable) self help resources early in the care pathway…and by joining the Physiotherapy Pain Association (PPA)

What does your role as chair of the PPA involve?
Quite a lot of information sifting, supporting and coordinating workplans and trying to foster good and wide reaching working relationships with similar like minded groups and individuals…however I am well supported by a great Executive Committee and the CSP is really upping it`s game with information sharing and infrastructure

How do you respond to your own pain? Do you suffer in silence or do you scream out load or are you a moaning Minnie??
I think I suffer in silence tho` my wife may dispute this….. I have been fortunate to have easily managed minor pain problems over the years so no real room for complaint !

What is your favourite flavour of ice cream?
Lemon and mango sorbet but actually would prefer a cheeseboard…

Thanks to Martin for taking time to share his working life with us, he certainly has some good tips on how we can all consolidate our pain management skills.  For more information see the Physiotherapy Pain Association website.