Chronic pain is a serious issue which affects a significant number of people. Did you know that chronic pain affects between 35 and 51% of adults in the UK?1

What is chronic pain?

Chronic pain is defined as pain lasting over three months. There are many causes of chronic pain.

Chronic pain can be caused by:       

  • Traumatic injuries
  • Surgery
  • Medical conditions such as cancer, Lyme disease and endometriosis.
  • Joint problems such as arthritis
  • Nerve damage
  • Fibromyalgia 

Are healthcare systems failing people with chronic pain?

People with chronic pain can face lengthy waiting times. 

In the annual quarter ending 30th September 2021, more than 1 in 4 patients referred to a chronic pain clinic in Scotland waited at least 12 weeks to be seen.2 For people experiencing pain on a daily basis, waiting for this length of time can prove challenging.

Why does chronic pain matter?

Chronic pain can have a significant impact on people’s quality of life. Between 10 and 14% of the UK population reported chronic pain that either moderately or severely limited their abilities.1

Sleep

Chronic pain can cause sleep problems.3,4 People with chronic pain experience difficulties with falling asleep and staying asleep. Poor quality sleep in turn worsens people’s perceived ability to cope with their pain the next day.3

Mental wellness

People with chronic pain have high rates of mental health conditions such as depression.4 People living with chronic pain describe a vicious cycle: their pain causes depressive symptoms, and these symptoms worsen their perception of pain.3

Social life

Chronic pain can make it harder for people to spend time in social situations. This can be because of depressive symptoms caused by pain, or restricted physical abilities. People with chronic pain may become socially isolated as a result.3

Employment

People with chronic pain report having to take more time off because of their pain. They also report that their work productivity is lower as a result of their pain. One study calculated that for every hour someone with chronic pain works, 31 minutes of that hour are unproductive as a result of their pain.5

Dementia risk

A recent study found that people with chronic pain were at higher risk of developing dementia.6 More research is needed to explore this link further, but it’s possible that chronic pain may lead to the development of dementia.

How can we treat chronic pain?

Treatment for chronic pain depends on the location and cause of the pain. Potential treatment options for chronic pain are:

Drug therapy 

Your doctor can advise you on a safe regime of medications to help address your pain. There are a range of painkillers available that can help with chronic pain. In some cases, your doctor may prescribe a specialist drug such as a muscle relaxant, to help reduce your symptoms.

Specialist procedures

Depending on the cause of your pain, it may be possible to manage your symptoms with a specialist procedure. Examples of these procedures are:

  • Radiofrequency denervation for chronic neck and back pain
  • Spinal cord stimulators
  • Epidurals for back pain

Treatment for chronic pain in Aberdeen

At ROC Private Clinic we understand the impact chronic pain has on your life, and are committed to providing you with the highest quality care.

Our Aberdeen pain clinic is led by Dr Ravi Nagaraja, consultant in pain medicine. Dr Ravi Nagaraja will take time to carry out a thorough assessment to understand your pain, and how it affects you. Following your assessment, Dr Ravi Nagajara will discuss with you the best available treatment options for your chronic pain. 

Give our friendly reception team a call to learn more about our pain clinic, or to book your first appointment.

References

  1. Fayaz A, Croft P, Langford RM, Donaldson LJ, Jones GT. Prevalence of chronic pain in the UK: a systematic review and meta-analysis of population studies. BMJ Open. 2016;6(6):e010364. Published 2016 Jun 20. doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2015-010364

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27324708/

  1. Public Health Scotland. Chronic Pain Waiting Times (Quarter Ending 30 September 2021).; 2021. 

https://publichealthscotland.scot/publications/chronic-pain-waiting-times/chronic-pain-waiting-times-quarter-ending-30-september-2021/. Accessed May 17, 2022.

  1. Hadi MA, McHugh GA, Closs SJ. Impact of Chronic Pain on Patients’ Quality of Life: A Comparative Mixed-Methods Study. J Patient Exp. 2019;6(2):133-141. doi:10.1177/2374373518786013

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31218259/

  1. Alhalal EA, Alhalal IA, Alaida AM, Alhweity SM, Alshojaa AY, Alfaori AT. Effects of chronic pain on sleep quality and depression: A cross-sectional study. Saudi Med J. 2021;42(3):315-323. doi:10.15537/smj.42.3.20200768

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7989257/

  1. Kronborg C, Handberg G, Axelsen F. Health care costs, work productivity and activity impairment in non-malignant chronic pain patients. Eur J Health Econ. 2009;10(1):5-13. doi:10.1007/s10198-008-0096-3

https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10198-008-0096-3

  1. Kao PH, Jang FL, Ho CH, et al. Chronic Pain Increases the Risk of Dementia: A Nationwide Population-Based Cohort Study. Pain Physician. 2021;24(6):E849-E856.

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34554705/

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