Published by The Guardian

Chronic pain affects more than two fifths of the UK population, meaning that around 28 million adults are living with pain that has lasted for three months or longer, a new study reveals.

The authors estimate that almost 44% of the population experience chronic pain, with up to 14.3% living with chronic pain that is either moderately or severely disabling.

“Pain is really under-represented in terms of the public awareness of it,” said Alan Fayaz, an author of the study from Imperial College, London. “Nobody ever talks about chronic pain, it is like a silent epidemic.”

Published in the journal BMJ Open by a team of UK scientists the research, part funded by the British Pain Society, involved a review of 19 studies conducted since 1990 involving a total of nearly 140,000 people in the UK. The authors found that women were more likely to experience chronic pain than men, while prevalence was generally found to increase with age. In one study, prevalence among those over the age of 75 was as high as 62%.

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