EIGHT out of 10 patients are still in chronic pain a year after treatment – with 15% wishing that they were dead, new research has found.
The study, the first to track the impact of chronic pain on patients over a year, found that more than three-quarters of patients worried that their pain would force them to stop work.
It found that 46% felt alone in tackling their pain and more than half of Irish patients felt anxious or depressed.
Almost 300 patients in 13 European countries took part in the study – Pain STORY (Study Tracking Ongoing Responses for a Year).
It found that a high proportion of the patients accepted that the pain was a permanent part of their lives.
While one in four Irish patients claim they are taking the most appropriate level of medication, 80% are still suffering inordinate levels of pain.
President elect of the European federation of Chapters of the International Association for the Study of Pain, Hans Kress, said it was shocking that treated patients remained trapped in an ongoing cycle of pain and were losing hope.
Patients said they felt challenged by everyday activities, such as childcare, with 21% finding it difficult to look after their children.
Chairperson of the Irish Chronic Pain Association Michael Bohill said the feeling of isolation experienced by many chronic pain sufferers could be the hardest aspect to deal with.
“Chronic pain patients need to be made aware that there is support available for all of those that want to share their experience with others,” he said.
The research showed that one year on, pain continued to dominate the lives of six in 10 patient with more than half of patients’ pain levels failing to improve.
For 14% of Irish patients, their pain became even worse.
The study also showed that many patients might not be receiving the appropriate medication. After a year of treatment 80% of patients are still suffering from moderate to severe chronic pain.
Only 6% had been prescribed strong opioid medication, with 64% resorting to over the counter.
Consultant physician in palliative medicine in Cork University Hospital, Dr Tony O’Brien, said it was very distressing to discover that so many patients continued to suffer uncontrolled pain and described the human cost as immeasurable.
“These patients must have ready access to skilled healthcare professionals and be fully evaluated and accessed,” he said.
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