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Managing Pain 2020

COVID-19 and the impact on the pain patient

iStock / Getty Images Plus / Igor Vershinsky

Brona Fullen

President Elect, European Pain Federation

Chronic pain is a prevalent condition that causes significant functional disability and reduced quality of life. In Europe alone, almost one in five individuals report having moderate or severe chronic pain.

The response to the COVID-19 pandemic means that the care of individuals with pain has been significantly impacted. Many services for patients have been cancelled or suspended including out-patient appointments, elective surgeries, and multi-professional pain management services.

While some settings have transitioned care options involving treating individuals online or over the phone (telehealth), many patients with pain have been left without care and find themselves waiting in uncertainty.

Survey evidence from Austria has reported that patients with hip and knee osteoarthritis who had their surgery deferred due to COVID-19 experienced higher pain and anxiety. Similarly, in the UK, a survey undertaken during the most restrictive part of the COVID-19 lockdown reported that individuals with chronic pain reported increased pain intensity as well as higher levels of anxiety, depression, loneliness and reduced levels of physical activity compared to individuals with no pain. Reduced opportunities for social support have also strong potential to contribute to poor psychological health and impact disability levels.

What needs to be done?

Efforts are urgently required to support individuals with chronic pain with their pain management. At the European Pain Federation EFIC we have created a COVID-19 Task Force to distribute new research to doctors, physiotherapists, psychologists and nurses looking for evidence-based information regarding pain treatment of their patients.

Further details can be found here:

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