More than half chronic pain sufferers have changed the way they manage pain due to COVID-19 as many struggled to access medication but reaped the benefits of increased access to medical appointments over the phone.
The National Pain Survey 2020 surveyed more than 1200 people with chronic conditions and found 52 per cent changed their pain management during the pandemic and 66 per cent benefited from boosted investment in telehealth services.
Canberra's Megan Kuleas was one of many with a chronic condition who welcomed the opportunity to attend appointments over the phone, but was forced to adapt as essential medication became difficult to access.
Ms Kuleas lives with pain daily due to endometriosis after she was diagnosed at 19, and relies on medication to manage the pain and allow her to sleep through the night.
Her chronic conditions have led to a heart condition, which forced Ms Kuleas to move in with family due to fainting sporadically several times a day.
"The pain itself affects the way I walk, I've got pain up and down my legs, across my stomach and across my back," she said.
"Some people have probably panicked when they were running out of other readily available supplies like toilet paper ... they were worried they wouldn't be able to get their medication so I guess were stockpiling," she said.
"It had a flow-on effect, so there were some medications I need for my chronic pain and I just wasn't able to get for a period of time because it wasn't available in Canberra and the stockists were having issues getting it from overseas."
However, the pandemic has allowed Ms Kuleas to book in medical appointments faster and more easily with an increased reliance on telehealth nationwide.
"For the days I've been really unwell and unable to get out of bed, I can still have those appointments or I could get an appointment quicker," she said.
"I see a lot of doctors in Sydney, so having the telephone option, being able to use that more readily has been good so I haven't had to travel for my appointments."
Alongside medication to help her sleep, Ms Kuleas uses opioids to control the pain which can leave her bedridden or unable to sleep for days at a time.
Chronic Pain Australia president Jarrod McMaugh said the changes, which meant patients could be given enough pain killers for two or three days instead of a week, had caused a lot of disruption during a time of high-stress.
Mr McMaugh said telehealth was valuable to people with chronic pain and hoped it would remain accessible post-pandemic.
However, the mental health impacts of an increasingly uncertain situation had a taken a toll.
"If you're feeling anxious about something it means your experience of pain when it flares up will have a bigger impact because it's doubling up," he said.
"Everybody feeling anxious about COVID-19 does mean people's experience with pain is affected as well."