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Last Updated: Monday, 13 October, 2003, 21:25 GMT 22:25 UK
Under fifties 'blighted by pain'
Woman chronic pain generic
Millions suffer from chronic pain, says the survey
Almost half of all those suffering from chronic pain are less than 50 years old, claims a survey.

In the UK one in seven are in constant pain, caused by arthritis, muscle problems or more serious diseases.

For one in 10 the pain started during their teens and there is no prospect of a cure.

Pain management experts say not enough is being done to tackle pain and offer treatments which could give some relief to sufferers.

The survey involved interviews of more than 46,000 people in 12 countries - 3,000 in the UK.

More than one in eight in the UK reported some form of chronic pain - which is low compared to some European countries.

In Norway, the number affected approaches a third of those questioned, and the European average is 19%.

Suicidal thoughts

The most common type of pain was back pain - the most common cause arthritis.

Alice Peterson
All I wanted to do was curl up into a ball, covered in hot water bottles and never wake up again
Alice Peterson
The survey suggested the chronic pain had a massive impact on their lives - one in five sufferers said they had been diagnosed with depression as a result of the pain, and 16% said that some days the pain was so bad that they "wanted to die"

Almost half said that they would be prepared to pay every penny they had to rid themselves of the pain.

Relationships suffered as well - 27% of chronic pain patients said they found it harder to maintain relationships with friends and family - and 19% are no longer able to have sex as a result.

Alice Peterson was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis at the age of 18 - just as she prepared to take up a tennis scholarship in the US.

It is clear that current pain management strategies must be substantially improved."
Dr Graham Archard, RCGP
The condition ended at a stroke her hopes of a professional tennis career.

Now 29, she said: "All I wanted to do was curl up into a ball, covered in hot water bottles and never wake up again.

"I felt like I was in a dark tunnel with no flicker of light to guide me anywhere."

More help needed

Dr Berverly Collett, President of the UK's Pain Society and a consultant in pain management at University Hospitals Leicester, said: "Not enough is being done to manage chronic pain an the isolation it causes.

"Doctors and politicians need to listen to what patients are saying."

Two-fifths of the people surveyed said they felt their pain was still not adequately controlled, despite reporting it to their doctor.

Dr Graham Archard, chairman of the pain management group at the Royal College of General Practitioners, said: "With over half of patients researched saying that their pain is constant, and 68% reporting inadequate pain control, it is clear that current pain management strategies must be substantially improved."


Your comments

My GP seems unsympathetic
Michael Myers, UK
Having suffered from unexplained and undiagnosed pain in my upper right abdomen for around three years now, my GP seems unsympathetic, I had two ultrasound scans before being referred to a consultant surgeon who reluctantly gave me an MRI scan (1.5 years after I originally was referred) which revealed "possible defects" as they said in the muscle wall. I was told basically without cutting me open, and possibly making it worse there was nothing to be done. Apparently even the consultant told me, a high proportion of people with surgical consults have inexplicable pain which is never diagnosed or treated.
Michael Myers, UK

I have suffered chronic pain for the past seven years. This pain is in various parts of my body and all my GP says that it is "because you are Diabetic." This excuse is used every time but I know that all my pain is not down to this.
Jay, Lancashire, UK

Last year I was in terrible pain and not able to walk. After visiting my GP he was sure that I suffered from rheumatoid arthritis even though my tests came back negative. I had suffered attacks like this since I was 12 and when I turned 25 I decided to head to America and get advice. I was diagnosed having Fibromyalgia which is a muscle and tissue disease. Most doctors here do not even believe it is an illness. If you are getting treatments in this country and they are not helping take a trip to America it might open your eyes!
Stacy, England

The only way forward for chronic pain sufferers is alternative medicine
Lily, London, UK
I have suffered from muscle pain (Fibromyalgia) for two years, and the only thing that did help was acupressure massage. It came as a shock how conventional medicine is incapable of helping something like that. The problem is, if they don't quite understand the illness, the Western doctors are incapable of doing anything about it. The only way forward for chronic pain sufferers is alternative medicine - osteopathy, chiropractics and acupuncture, which should be available free on the NHS, they are the only things that help.
Lily, London, UK

I tore my left knee in a sports accident, ruptured three discs in my lower back at work, and was the victim of a serious rear-end car collision last year. I have lost almost 3" in height, due to spinal cord compression; and I have endured three surgeries. I cannot stand in one spot unassisted, without severe pain. And there are days I cannot walk half a block. The only painkillers I use are anti-inflammatories, as I do not wish to become drug-dependent. This started in my 20s. It is a quality of life issue, and a definite source of severe bouts of depression. One cannot function is severe pain. More attention needs to be paid to the issue.
Nicky, USA

The only suggestions I have ever had from GPs have been to take pain killers. Useless. However, a chiropractor completely cured my chronic lower back ache 15 years ago. Any signs of a mild return and he sorts it out again. As for frozen shoulder, for me acupuncture was the answer. The latter has also comprehensively dealt with a chronic cough, PMS, sleep problems and so on. Why does anyone go to a GP?
Annie, UK

I'll never speak to my GP about this type of thing again until I've seen an osteopath or chiropractor first!
Tony Kenny, UK
I have been affected by pain since an accident I had whilst pulling a trailer into position earlier this year. My GP didn't help giving me drugs that tackled the symptoms but not the cause. Visiting an osteopath has not only helped relieve the cause of the pain but has also taught me exercises and routines to help prevent the pain in the future. I'll never speak to my GP about this type of thing again until I've seen an osteopath or chiropractor first!
Tony Kenny, UK

I've had constant back pain for over six years. It's not crippling and doesn't prevent me from doing activity, but it is always there. I've been to a number of GPs who prescribe strong pain killers which don't work, tell me to get a lumber support and that is it. I want someone to tell me what the problem is and help me stop it happening.
James M, UK

I have been suffering from a frozen shoulder for some months now. Having visited my doctor a number of times the pain is not getting any better and my GP is indifferent to my pain. I have the feeling that I should be grateful that it is not any worse; after all there are people with far worse pain than me.
Geoff, UK

He tries hard not to take strong pain killers daily
Mellisa, UK
My partner is in constant pain with back problems although he doesn't often admit it to me as he doesn't want to let it get the better of him and to be seen to be moaning about it. He tries hard not to take strong pain killers daily in case of side effects or damage to his organs. He has asked the doctor if anything can be done but they say it can't unless he has an op which could leave him unable to walk!! He keeps fit by swimming and running to keep his weight down and the muscles and joints active but is worried he may not always be able to do this.
Mellisa, UK

I have suffered with pain for at least 28 years, I am 45. The problem I have faced is there is a lack of understanding from GPs. If there are symptoms that they can't understand, it's put down to a mental issue.
Pankaj, UK

My experience of pain management on the NHS is that it is inadequate and certainly does not look at the side effects of chronic pain such as depression, sleep problems, constant tiredness, reduced/ inhibited sex life, and the upset of plans being ruined by pain. I spent 2 hours in a hot bath on my wedding night before I could consider going to bed. I have a TENS machine and the only support I get from the NHS at the moment is repeat prescriptions!
Helen, Merseyside, England




WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Vicki Young
"Many patients feel family doctors simply don't understand what they are going through"



SEE ALSO:
Clue to treating nerve pain
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'The slightest touch was agony'
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