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Half of UK population living with chronic pain

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London: Up to half of the UK population – around 28 million adults – are living in chronic pain, with more women affected than men, new research has found, says PTI. This proportion is likely to rise as the population ages, researchers wrote in the study published in journal BMJ Open, adding that chronic pain is a major cause of disability and distress among those affected by it.

The researchers trawled relevant databases to find studies on different types of pain, published after 1990. The search included studies on population based estimates of chronic pain – defined as lasting more than three months – chronic widespread pain, fibromyalgia (a rheumatic condition characterised by muscular or musculoskeletal pain), and chronic neuropathic pain (pain caused by nerve signalling problems).

From among 1,737 relevant articles, 19 studies, involving just under 140,000 adults, were included in the final analysis. Researchers pooled the study data to arrive at an estimate of the prevalence of chronic pain, overall and chronic widespread pain.


Summary estimates were also drawn up for moderate to severely disabling chronic pain, fibromyalgia and chronic neuropathic pain among UK adults. Based on seven studies, the researchers worked out that the prevalence of chronic pain ranged from 35 per cent to 51 per cent of the adult population, with the prevalence of moderate to severely disabling chronic pain, ranging from 10 to 14 per cent – equivalent to around 8 million people.

Pooling of the data showed that 43 per cent of the population experience chronic pain, and 14 per cent of UK adults live with chronic widespread pain. The summarised data also showed that 8 per cent of UK adults experience chronic neuropathic pain, and 5.5 per cent live with fibromyalgia. Twelve of the studies categorised the prevalence of pain by age group, and these showed that older people were more likely to live with pain over the long term.