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Chronic pain patients trapped in 'ongoing cycle' of suffering

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The majority of patients who suffer from chronic pain are still in moderate to severe pain after a year of treatment, latest survey results suggest.

According to the poll of almost 300 patients with non-malignant chronic pain, 95% still had moderate to severe pain despite taking pain relieving treatment for a year.

More than half said their pain levels failed to improve over the course of a year’s treatment, and one in five said their pain had become worse.

The survey also revealed that only 12% of the patients were prescribed a strong opiod, and only 23% had their prescription changed to a stronger type of pain medication during the year.

Despite the high proportion of patients continuing to suffer from chronic pain, the number who visited a doctor over the course of a year declined from 83% at the beginning to 70% at the end.

Only 19% were sent for further tests, and just 2% of those surveyed had seen a pain specialist consistently throughout the year, the survey revealed.

Commenting on the findings of the survey, Action on Pain chairman Ian Semmons said: “We have been aware for some time that treatment of chronic pain was under resourced, but this research reveals the full shocking extent of the problem.

“After 12 months, patients are still trapped in an ongoing cycle of pain and a large proportion seem to be losing hope and simply accepting the severe impact their pain has on their lives,” he added.

Earlier this year, chief medical officer for England, Liam Donaldson, called for “a major initiative to widen access to high quality pain services” after a report revealed that of the five million people in the UK who develop chronic pain every year, only two thirds recover.

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Readers' comments (1)

  • I don't find this report surprising. My local hospital has signs above each bed which say "In Pain, ask for help" and then the pain nurses dictate what analgesia you get regardles of whether it is effective and at wekend, when they are not around, no-one listens to even change things. What's the point?

    So we patients (and yes healthcare workers are often patients themselves) suffer, totally unnecessarily.

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