Chronic pain is an undervalued or inadequately treated pathology

Despite the magnitude of the problem and the professional, scientific and social interest involved in the care and treatment of the person with chronic pain, specialists warn that this pathology is undervalued or inadequately treated.

More than seven million Spaniards (17% of the population) are affected by chronic pain and, however, despite the great impact it has on the daily lives of those affected, the mean time to diagnose chronic pain is 2.2 years. In addition, the average delay to receive adequate treatment that can remit or end the problem is 1.6 years, terms that have been increased even more so due to the impact that Covid-19 has had on the health system.

Diagnosis of chronic pain can take more than two years. Is this undervalued or inadequately treated pathology

As the specialists point out, a third of the population over 14 years of age has suffered the interference of pain in the performance of their daily activities. In fact, 41% of women and 27% of men report that these episodes of pain affect them “A lot or a lot” according to data from the ‘National Health Survey in Spain‘of the National Institute of Statistics (INE).

On the other hand, pain also has a great impact on mental health, since, according to data from the Spanish Pain Society (SED), almost eight out of ten people who face chronic pain in Spain claim to be anxious or depressed as a consequence of it.

Despite this, the diagnosis can be delayed for more than two years, which causes that almost half of the people who face chronic pain (48%) are unhappy with the wait time for treatment and they show dissatisfied with the management of their illness or pain, according to the results of the study ‘Pain in chronic disease from the perspective of patients‘, prepared by the Platform of Patient Organizations (POP) together with the SED.

In the Spanish case, the adherence to treatments, in the best cases (those with intense pain) it is around 50% and only half of the patients are satisfied with it. On the other hand, drugs for severe or moderate pain they are mostly NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), with low percentages of opioids and paracetamol.

Eight out of ten patients have prescribed treatment

Despite the seriousness and complexity of this pathology, the Spanish Pain Society places special emphasis on the fact that steps are being taken to improve the situation of all those people who face this type of pain. One of the most recent is that the Nobel Prize in Medicine awarded to David julius and Ardem Patapoutian tackles pain. In their case, both authors have found that there are common receptors for pain, pressure and temperature. “Without a doubt, this award will attract more attention to pain research”, indicate from the SED, emphasizing thateight out of ten patients experiencing severe pain have prescribed treatment”.

Among the most positive contents and advances the Spanish Society of Pain highlights that, “finally”, chronic pain has been listed as a disease, or that there is new techniques and better pharmacological treatments to tackle it. In addition, when addressing this problem, it is committed to a multidisciplinary treatment with the best ongoing training and available evidence that incorporates various disciplines such as: psychological, pharmacological care, etc. Specialists also have high hopes for translational medicine.

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Chronic pain is an undervalued or inadequately treated pathology

Hank Gilbert