I would really like to know if this statistic is true and how it came to be… 1 in 10 adult Australians suffer from chronic pain? That seems a little high. Furthermore, if it is true that it is underreported, how many really suffer from it? I can now understand why many aren’t getting the help that they need. At least there is awareness on the topic unlike here in America where either you’re considered to be “faking it” or are just “looking for a fix”.
One of the most interesting things about this article is the possibility of defining chronic pain as a “disease”. I wonder what this would mean for those afflicted with it. I am not sure of what the disability laws are like in Australia, and would love for someone to fill me in on this. How would redefining chronic pain influence the sufferer? What do you think?
Health experts are warning that chronic pain is taking a huge personal and economic toll on Australians, affecting one in five people and costing more than $34 billion a year.
As part of National Pain Week, they say pain clinics around the country have long waiting lists and less than 10 per cent of patients with chronic pain have access to effective treatment.
It comes as new figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics based on a household survey show one in 10 Australian adults experienced severe or very severe pain in the previous month and they were much more likely to report high levels of psychological distress than those without pain.
Experts argue chronic pain, which is pain that lasts longer than three months, should now be seen as a disease in its own right.
Perth occupational therapist Jane Muirhead said many people were still ashamed to seek help to manage pain because they thought it was just something they should learn to live with.
“Once people get through that hurdle and have their pain syndrome recognised there are some good programs but we’re often seeing them up to 10 years later than we should,” she said.
“People need to know that if they have pain longer than three to six months that’s not settling and seems to worsen when they do normal daily activities, then it needs to be addressed.”
Chronic Pain Australia president Coralie Wales said up to 20 per cent of GP visits were by patients suffering chronic pain and many ambulance callouts were for people with long-term pain.
“There are long waiting lists for specialised pain clinics and big areas of Australia have no clinics at all,” she said.
Professor Michael Cousins, who heads the University of Sydney’s Pain Management Research Institute, said the NSW Government had recently granted $26 million over four years to provide a comprehensive pain management plan.
“I’d like to see a program like that in all States because in this day and age not having access to pain management as a human right is really wrong,” he said.
Painaustralia chief executive Lesley Brydon said chronic pain was the biggest unrecognised health problem in Australia.