THE number of people with persistent pain continues to grow, as does the rise in the amount of people using prescription drugs such as opioid to medicate – but Teesside University is aiming to tackle the issue.

Professor Cormac Ryan, Professor of Clinical Rehabilitation at Teesside University’s School of Health & Life Sciences, is community pain champion for the Flippin Pain campaign which aims to change how people think about, talk about and treat persistent pain.

Professor Ryan is among pain experts who fear the current reliance on prescription medication to manage persistent pain is not always effective or sustainable.

He supports new guidance from the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) to encourage people with persistent pain to use active physical and psychological therapies, rather than medications.

He said: “The Flippin Pain campaign aims to change the way people manage persistent pain by helping them to better understand the science of pain, which can help them to make more informed choices about their pain.

“Around 28 million people across the UK experience persistent pain and the use of opiates has risen dramatically, but for most people these drugs don’t work well for persistent pain.

“There are a lot of myths surrounding painkillers and there needs to be a cultural shift,” added Professor Ryan, whose research looks at the impact of chronic pain on patients and interventions to manage the condition.

“The way that people understand their pain can impact the way it feels to them and how they respond to it.

“Chronic pain is extremely complex.

“A person may suffer debilitating pain, while displaying no obvious physical indicators and vice versa.”

He added: “Understanding more about their persistent pain can be transformative and help an individual on those first steps towards recovery.

“Recovery too is extremely individual and can mean different things to different people.

“It can mean a reduction in pain, but it is more about helping people to regain control of their lives and improve their quality of life.”

The Flippin Pain campaign has already held a range of online sessions attended by thousands of people, along with a public lecture held in Lincoln which was delivered by Professor Ryan alongside Professor Lorimer Moseley, the foremost researcher on persistent pain education in the world.

Professor Ryan said: “The Flippin Pain campaign is modelled on a similar campaign in Australia called Pain Revolution led by world renowned pain researcher Professor Lorimer Moseley.

“We’ve been able to offer support to people across the country through the online sessions and we also held a community roadshow in Lincolnshire earlier this month.”

The roadshow included an outreach tour which saw Professor Ryan and campaign colleagues cycle round vehicles across Lincolnshire to promote the Flippin Pain campaign.

For more information about Flippin Pain, visit