According to a survey conducted by Pain UK and St Jude Medical, 83% of British people are aware that chronic pain is a serious condition, but only 15% receive proper treatment to manage their symptoms.
The survey questioned 1,614 people across the UK – 1,090 general respondents and 524 chronic pain sufferers – in order to identify general awareness of chronic pain and treatment options.
While 66% of sufferers admit to seeing their GP, the majority do not visit a pain clinic or see a specialist to receive proper treatment.
Furthermore, only 30% of the general respondents said they understood what chronic pain is and how long it lasts.
Chronic pain affects around 10 million people in the UK. It is defined as a long-lasting pain that lasts more than 12 weeks, or pain that remains after trauma or surgery.
Its impact on quality of life can be severe, as it makes daily activities such as work and driving very difficult.
Getting appropriate treatment is essential for helping to better manage symptoms, but as the latest research shows, very few sufferers are getting the care and support they need.
In light of the survey results, Dr Vivek Mehta, consultant pain physician at Barts Health NHS Trust, said: “The statistics uncovered in this survey are concerning and a definite indication that awareness must be increased about chronic pain and the proper treatment for it.
“Although people believe that chronic pain is an actual condition, many are unaware of the treatment options and are living with a condition that has a profound negative impact on their quality of life.”
Dr Vivek added that many sufferers in the UK do not realise there are numerous types of treatment and support for chronic pain – not just medication.
Counselling in particular can be helpful to those who are living with chronic pain – especially for supporting emotional health. Pain can be disruptive both mentally and physically, and can leave sufferers feeling frustrated, out of control and emotionally drained. A counsellor can help work through these issues and find new ways of coping.