Adelaide’s recreational cyclists are being urged to help raise awareness about chronic pain by joining the University of South Australia’s Ride for Pain on Sunday April 29. The ride, which includes an option for cyclists to conquer the notoriously painful Corkscrew Road in the Adelaide Hills, is the brainchild of UniSA’s Professor of Clinical Neurosciences Lorimer Moseley. Prof Moseley says the pain of riding up Corkscrew Road is a small window into the pain experienced by chronic pain sufferers on a daily basis:
“The first time I rode up Corkscrew Road I thought, there are so many metaphors here. You’ve got to be patient, you can’t go too hard, you’ve got to be courageous … all the things I required to get up that hill were what people with chronic pain require on a longer, tougher basis. Chronic pain is often still seen as socially unacceptable, with the topic swept under the carpet in much the same way as depression was, until recently. We shouldn’t be looking at people with chronic pain as malingerers and fragile; we should be looking at them as tough and courageous and with potential to get better.”
Prof Moseley hopes community awareness will make the difference. He encourages recreational cyclists of all abilities to join the inaugural ride and help raise both awareness and funding for chronic pain research.
“Chronic pain costs Australia every bit as much as diabetes or cancer. But if you look at the research funding for chronic pain, it just doesn’t match up,” he says. “Chronic pain is a huge problem, with one in five suffering from a chronic pain disorder that reduces their quality of life. It costs Australia around $35 billion in health care costs and lost productivity and has major social and family consequences.”
The inaugural Ride for Pain seeks to raise awareness of this frequently overlooked issue. Recreational riders and families can enjoy a 35km beach route, while a 100km Adelaide Hills endurance course is available to cycling enthusiasts. Those with the cycling talent are challenged to conquer Corkscrew Road in a bid to overcome adversity and acknowledge the parallel challenge faced by those suffering from chronic pain.
Prof Moseley is currently training to take on the 100km route including Corkscrew Road, which he has only braved once before. “I’m certainly no uber cyclist, but I’m going to take on the Corkscrew, train for it, and have a go to get up that hill after 80kms riding beforehand,” he says. (Corkscrew Road is towards the end of the 100km route).
Joining Prof Moseley on the ride will be champion international cyclist and 2004 Tour Down Under winner Patrick Jonker, who is now a regular ambassador for Team UniSA-Australia in the Santos Tour Down Under among many other commitments. UniSA Vice Chancellor Peter Høj and his partner will also join the ride, along with leading international pain researchers from Oxford University and King’s College London.
Funds raised from the ride will go directly into chronic pain research in South Australia. Prof Moseley says research is the key to curing and preventing chronic pain.
“Historically, attitudes to chronic pain were ‘snap out of it’, a bit like it used to be with depression,” he says. “There was also a tendency in clinical fields over the past 30 years to say we can’t do anything about chronic pain, you can’t get better. “I think both of those things are wrong. I think biology tells us really clearly they’re not making it up, they’re really hurting, they wake up in the morning with severe debilitating back pain and you can’t go to work with that. “One thing we need to do is teach them to manage their lives to minimise the impact of that but I think the other thing that’s been missing is we need to work out ways to give them resources to get rid of their pain to stop hurting. There are good reasons to suggest that’s a viable goal. “But we need the studies to work out how best to do it. The ultimate is that we can prevent it, so let’s do the research that’s required.”
For more information and to register for the ride, go to www.unisa.edu.au/health/
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