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Monday, 11 November, 2002, 02:55 GMT
One in five suffers daily pain
One in 10 people suffer in silence
One in five Britons suffers pain on an almost daily basis, a survey suggests.

For most of these people, their quality of life is seriously affected.

Almost nine out of 10 say they are less physically active because of the pain and almost half say it has caused them to become depressed.


We lack an overall strategy for pain management services in this country

Dr Beverly Collett, Pain Society
One in three say they have taken time off work because of pain and the same proportion say it affects their sex lives.

The NOP survey, carried out for the Pain Society, comes at the start of national Pain Awareness Week.

It suggests that a significant proportion - some 15% - of people with pain do not seek medical advice or help and 11% were not taking medication to alleviate their symptoms.

Dr Beverly Collett, president-elect of the Pain Society and a consultant at Leicester Royal Infirmary, said: "Untreated pain or inadequately treated pain can have a serious impact on emotional well-being, causing depression, feelings of helplessness and for some, disability.

"There are too many patients who have not received any help and they are suffering unnecessarily."

'Care shortfall'

The survey also suggests that those who do seek medical help turn to the GP in most cases. Very few visit a pain specialist.

Dr Collett said that this suggested patients may not be receiving the care they need.

"The survey shows that the majority are treated by their family doctor or at an NHS walk-in centre.

"Many self-medicate using over the counter medication and over one in 10 suffer in silence.

"Although we have effective drugs and other techniques for treating chronic pain, we lack an overall strategy for pain management services in this country."

She urged the government to tackle the problem.

Treatment costs

Back problems and arthritis are the most common cause of pain.

But many people also suffer from menstrual pain, headaches, migraine and pain associated with heart disease and cancer.

The cost of treating these patients on the NHS runs into hundreds of millions of pounds annually.

It is also estimated to cost the UK economy in excess of 1bn each year.

See also:

15 Oct 02 | Health
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