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Saturday, 6 October, 2001, 00:02 GMT 01:02 UK
Doctors call for improved pain care
Back pain is the most common kind
Back pain is the most common kind
Doctors are urging patients with chronic pain not to suffer in silence.

Experts from the Pain Society say pain is often neglected by healthcare professionals, and patients need to speak up about their symptoms.

There are also "vast disparities" in the quality of pain management services across the country, they say.

Dr Chris Wells, secretary of the British Pain Society, said governments had neglected pain management services.

There are vast disparities in the pain management services offered around the country

Dr Chris Wells, British Pain Society
He said: "There are vast disparities in the pain management services offered around the country.

"Where there are energetic health professionals with the drive to set up good pain management services, the provision is excellent, but there are some areas with huge waiting lists, and very little provision at all."

At the start of the 'European Week Against Pain', the society said doctors needed to be educated about treating pain, and a structured network of pain management services across the country.

Pain in the back

A survey of 3,600 patients in Scottish general practice found half reported chronic pain, and for half of those pain was significant.

The most common reason for pain in people of all ages is back pain.

In those aged over 60, arthritis affects a quarter.

Pain is classed as acute or chronic.

Acute pain is connected with tissue damage, and fades when the underlying problem is tackled.

It is usually treated with painkilling drugs.

Chronic pain is described as pain or discomfort that persists continuously or intermittently for longer than three months, even with treatment.

It too can be treated with painkillers, but other drugs such as low-level dose antidepressants and anticonvulsants can also help.

Among other treatments, doctors can block nerve transmission with local anaesthetic can also help disturb pain messages.

Dr Wells said: "There are around 22m episodes of back pain every year in the UK - yet only one in 10 people seek medial help.

"Post-operative pain is another area where we are certain that patients don't speak up and ask for pain relief - even when they are in hospital."

See also:

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The complex world of pain
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