UK is a nation in pain, according to global survey

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A global consumer survey has shown that of 14 European countries, the UK is where the most people report feeling body pain, defined as aches in the muscles, joints, tendons, and ligaments.

Pain in the lower back in men

The survey, called the Global Pain Index, found that almost all people (93%) in the UK experience pain, with two-thirds (67%) saying they suffer with it every week and more than 1 in 10 (12%) saying the pain is constant.

The report also showed that despite the nation seeming to be in pain, of all the countries surveyed, it was people in the UK who had the least understanding of what causes body pain.

For the study, researchers spoke to 7,000 people (aged 18 or older) across 14 countries (Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Poland, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Sweden, UK and the USA). The UK was the country where the most pain was felt in Western Europe and was second only to Australia, where 97% of people reported experiencing pain.

The report also highlighted the wider impact that this body pain has on quality of life, with people in the UK reporting a negative effect on their romantic, social, family and professional lives. More than half (55%) said the pain prevents them from having sex; 67% said the pain affects their social lives and 40% said they had been forced to give up hobbies as a result of the pain. More than half (57%) of parents surveyed believed they would do a better job of parenthood without the pain and 62% said the pain has a negative effect on their career.

Of all the European countries surveyed, respondents in the UK were the least likely to understand the cause of their pain. Only half (53%) knew what causes the pain, which compares with 71% in the most informed nation, which was China.

Commenting on the findings, a GP from London, Sarah Jarvis says: “Many people in the UK are taking the attitude that body pain is something you can ignore and hope it goes away, but this approach isn’t working. The findings of the GSK Global Pain Index have shown us that the UK is one of the countries where most people report feeling pain, but it also illustrates that we need a better understanding of our pain and how to treat it.

…This study highlights how important it is for us as health professionals to help people understand their pain and treat it effectively,” she adds.

Sally Robertson

Written by

Sally Robertson

Sally first developed an interest in medical communications when she took on the role of Journal Development Editor for BioMed Central (BMC), after having graduated with a degree in biomedical science from Greenwich University.

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