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Blog Post

Managing Chronic Pain

Blog by Dr Michael Stafford Consultant in Anaesthesia and Chronic Pain Medicine


Chronic pain is very common. It affects up to 7.8 million adults in the UK and as many as 300,000 adults in Northern Ireland. To make matters worse, in the UK there is 1 specialist in chronic pain management for approx. every 32,000 pain sufferers and in Northern Ireland this figure could be as high as 1 per 50,000.

View our full range of Chronic & Spinal Pain Services & Treatments.


Site of pain

Muscle, bone and joint pain are the main causes of chronic pain, with back pain and osteoarthritis together responsible for over half of all cases. Every year, 1.6 million adults in the United Kingdom develop back pain that stretches beyond three months. At any one time, a quarter of adults over the age of 40 in the United Kingdom have knee pain, and in around half of them this pain is disabling.

Severe and recurrent headache is common. Around 12% of the population experience migraine, and a further 9% of women and 3% of men suffer with chronic daily headache. Pelvic pain lasting more than six months affects a million women in the United Kingdom; an additional one in eight women suffer from severe menstrual pain.

Up to 5% of the population are affected by chronic widespread pain of unknown cause, including diagnoses such as fibromyalgia.

Neuropathic pain (caused by nerve damage) can affect up to 5% of the adult population. The most common form of this pain is sciatica.


Chronic Pain Ruins Lives

Up to 65% of sufferers report sleep disturbance, almost 50% report problems such as social isolation, walking, driving or having a normal sex life. In 49% of those with chronic pain there is depression, which can be severe enough to contemplate suicide.

Chronic pain reduces quality of life more than almost any other condition. Pain often becomes intertwined with the lives of people living with it. Pain has been described as ‘exhausting’ and ‘mentally draining’, and the experience of living with it ‘frustrating’, ‘isolating’ and ‘humiliating’.

Chronic headache significantly impairs quality of life. Disability is common, with 70% of migraine sufferers reporting some disability, of which 25% is severe.


United Kingdom: pain in numbers


What Can I Expect From A Chronic Pain Specialist?

Your pain specialist will do a thorough assessment of your pain, including a detailed history of your pain, review of investigations already done and consideration of any further investigations that are deemed necessary.

Your specialist will then be able to give you an explanation of you pain as well as reasonable expectation of treatment. This will lead to a customised treatment plan based around your needs, including medications and injections, or radiofrequency procedures,  as well as access to multi-disciplinary treatments including physio-therapy and psychology.

Surgery is rarely an option for chronic pain syndromes, but if your specialist feels that this could be an option, they will have access to a spinal or neurosurgeon.

Your specialist can also consider super-specialised treatments such as spinal cord stimulators.


View our full range of Chronic & Spinal Pain Services & Treatments.



Conditions Commonly Treated At Chronic Pain Clinics

Back Pain Post-Surgical Pain
Neck Pain Osteoarthritis
Headaches Complex Regional Pain Syndrome
Migraine Phantom Limb Pain
Trigeminal Neuralgia Knee Pain
Fibromyalgia Sacro Iliac Joint Pain
Neuropathic Pain Chronic Abdominal Pain
Myofascial Pain Piriformis Syndrome
Whiplash Injury Trochanteric Bursitis
Failed Back Surgery Syndrome Chronic Pelvic Pain
Sciatica Scar Pain
Coccyx Pain Post Herpetic Neuralgia (Shingles Pain)


If you would like to book an appointment or require further information on the options available to you, please do not hesitate to contact our Private Patient Booking Team through our direct contact form, by telephone on 02890667878, or by email at .


Posted on 28 Apr 2017