Chair, Pain UK
Taking pain seriously as a condition in itself could improve the lives of people living with pain and save jobs.
Getting the right treatment for pain is often difficult or impossible.
However, for many people living with pain, the problem starts before that: they struggle to get healthcare practitioners, employers, even family and friends to believe that their pain is real.
“Many people living with pain, which is pain lasting over three months, feel unheard and can be passed from one specialist to another for months or years, while living with pain and its consequences,” says Antony Chuter, Chair of the charity Pain UK.
Chuter, who lives with pain himself, says: “I lost my job, my relationship and my home as result.” He is not alone, in the UK currently 28 million live with pain.”
Barriers to access
“Access to pain diagnosis is a postcode lottery and waiting lists for pain clinics can be long,” says Chuter. “Many clinics are run by specialists who, while they would consider themselves generalists, also often have an interest in particular conditions or treatments, so if your pain is outside their area of interest you may not get the best care – and you don’t get a choice of clinics.”
Many people living with pain, which is pain lasting over three months, feel unheard and can be passed from one specialist to another for months or years, while living with pain and its consequences.
Treatments do not eradicate the pain in most cases, though they may reduce it. “There have been no new licensed pain treatments for years,” says Chuter.
“Clinicians are taught that pain is a diagnostic for other conditions, rather than as a difficult human experience.”