Update: Half the population living with chronic pain

Up to half of the UK population lives with chronic pain, according to a meta-analysis of 19 studies involving 139,933 adults.

Based on seven studies, between 35.0 and 51.3 per cent of the UK population endures chronic pain. Pooling the data suggested that 43.5 per cent of the UK population experiences chronic pain, with between 10.4 and 14.3 per cent living with moderately to severely disabling chronic pain.

Chronic pain becomes commoner as people get older, rising from 14.3 per cent in 18-25 year-olds to 62 per cent in those over 75 years of age.

Pain was commoner in females (37.0 to 51.8 per cent) than males (31.0 to 48.9 per cent). Between 12.3 and 17.9 per cent of women experienced chronic widespread pain compared to 9.0-14.1 per cent of men. Chronic neuropathic pain was commoner in females (9.2-10.2 per cent) than males (6.7-7.9 per cent).

“The best available published studies” suggest that between a third and half of the UK population experiences chronic pain – equivalent to “just under 28m adults”, the authors conclude. This number is likely to rise as the population ages.

(BMJ Open 2016;6:e010364)

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