The Persistent Physical Symptoms Service launched in April 2016; before this, there were separate services in North Cumbria for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and persistent pain conditions. The new PPSS team includes existing staff from both of these services.
It was recognised that people struggling with persistent pain and chronic fatigue have many common experiences, and many people do in fact have pain and fatigue at the same time. The service also supports people experiencing functional neurological symptoms, such as non-epileptic attacks. Again, these people often struggle with many of the same difficulties as those with persistent pain or chronic fatigue.
In the past, many people with long-term pain were treated using medications or invasive procedures such as facet joint injections and epidurals. In recent years, research has shown that there is limited evidence that these treatments work for persistent pain. Although complications are not common, they can potentially have serious consequences. Some pain medications can lead to addiction and other adverse side effects. The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) no longer recommends these treatments for some conditions.
A rehabilitative approach involving psychological therapies and physiotherapy-based interventions has been shown to have a positive impact for people experiencing persistent physical symptoms. This is not a "quick fix", but over time by using techniques such as pacing, mindfulness and stress management, many people find that they are more able to live with their symptoms.
Our ethos is that symptoms can be managed and their impact on your life minimised, even if it is not possible to "get rid of" them completely. We aim to support our patients to live a life which is driven by their values rather than their symptoms. You can hear more from people who have found this approach helpful in our Patients Stories section.