Pain Management Unit patient information

There are many factors which cause persistent pain, so working with a team of health professionals is important to achieve the best outcome.

The Pain Management Unit (PMU) is made up of a variety of staff who work collaboratively with patients to achieve the best outcome. 

Find out more about how to access services at the PMU, our attendance policy, the types of services we provide and resource to help you.

How to access Pain Management Unit (PMU) services

To access PMU services you will need a referral from you GP or other referring specialist

Once your referral has been accepted, you will be sent a patient screening questionnaire to complete by email or post. This helps us better understand your pain situation and the type of care that is most appropriate for you.

Once we have received your completed questionnaire, you will be placed on our waiting list for an appointment. 

When an appointment becomes available, we will either:

  • send you an appointment letter, or
  • phone you to book an appointment time.

More information will be provided to you at this point on what to expect from the pain unit, prior to your first appointment. 

Your first appointment may be a Pain Information Session or an appointment with one or more of our health care professionals.

Should changes occur to your medical condition during the waiting time for an appointment, contact your referring GP or referring specialist, who can send updated clinical information directly to the Pain Management Unit.

Cancellation and non-attendance policy

Please let us know if you cannot attend your allocated appointment time as soon as possible.

This allows time for us to allocate other patients on our waiting list and find you an alternative time to attend.

Please note:

  • cancellations within 24 hours of an appointment may be considered non-attendance depending on the circumstances
  • non-attendance of two consecutive appointments will be considered for discharge, as will 3 non-attendance's/cancellations within a 3-month period.

Pain information session

Most patients will initially attend a group-based introductory pain information session on first visiting the PMU.

In this session you will learn about what persistent pain is, what causes it, strategies to help manage pain and what to expect when attending our service.

Research has shown that an increased understanding of how and why pain happens helps people feel more equipped to manage it. We also provide suggestions on resources and community supports you may like to explore while waiting for your next appointment.

This session may be attended in-person or via telehealth (Zoom), with days and times varying. 

Group Programs

We offer group programs to help you learn and develop skills to manage your pain. They also provide an opportunity to connect with others who may share similar experiences.

The programs are co-run by psychologists and/or physiotherapists for a few hours over several weeks, either in-person or via telehealth.

Topics covered include:

  • information about persistent pain and how the mind and body operate in response to pain
  • breathing and relaxation training to reduce stress and muscle tension and improve coping
  • managing distressing thoughts and feelings associated with pain
  • gentle movements to improve general fitness, flexibility, and function
  • setting realistic goals in life to help you get back on track
  • pacing daily activities appropriately
  • addressing sleep problems
  • distraction and attention techniques
  • healthy living habits
  • communicating effectively within relationships.

If you are interested in attending a group, please discuss this with your pain unit team.


Our psychologists recognise that pain is an unpleasant physical and emotional experience, and that living with persistent pain can be distressing.

They can speak with you about your physical and emotional health and develop a personalised plan, designed to help you improve your quality of life and cope better with the thoughts, feelings and behaviours that accompany your pain.

Strategies may include:

  • learning relaxation techniques
  • establishing healthy sleep habits
  • managing distressing thoughts or worries
  • developing emotional coping skills.


Our physiotherapists can work with you to develop your functional capabilities, improve your confidence with movement, and improve your quality of life.

Strategies can include movement programs to maintain and improve flexibility, strength, and endurance, as well as pacing strategies to help avoid pain flares and prolonged periods of rest.

Opioid medication

People with persistent pain are sometimes prescribed opioid medicines. While these can be effective in the short term, they can also result in negative side-effects.

For some people, long-term opioid use can lead to tolerance and increased pain. Our pain specialist doctors can answer questions you may have about your medicines and guide you and your GP about the safest and most effective medicines for your situation.

Go to Reach for the Facts for more information on opioid medication.

Medicinal cannabis

There is currently limited evidence to support the use of medicinal cannabis for treating persistent non-cancer pain.

While the Pain Management Unit and the Australian Faculty of Pain Medicine do not currently recommend this treatment, it can be prescribed by a registered prescriber and paid for privately, as it is not currently subsidised by the government.

Get more information on medicinal cannabis

Patient resources