More than half of people with a number of chronic long-term health conditions are also in chronic pain, potentially affecting not just their physical but their mental health and their ability to be in or remain in employment.
Research from academics at the University of Glasgow has found that more than half (53.8%) of people with two or three long-term conditions (or multi-morbidity) reported at least one site of chronic pain.
The study, published in the Journal of Multimorbidity and Comorbidity, concluded that chronic pain was “extremely common” across a wide range of long-term conditions (LTCs) and people with multi-morbidity were at higher risk of having a greater extent of chronic pain.
“These results show that chronic pain is a key factor for consideration in the management of patients with LTCs or multi-morbidity,” it said.
Dr Barbara Nicholl, senior lecturer at Glasgow University’s Institute of Health and Wellbeing and one of the authors of the study, said: “This study is important because it highlights a much-neglected area of healthcare – namely the coexistence of chronic pain and multi-morbidity.
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“Our study shows that the presence of chronic pain should be a key factor for consideration in the management of patients with two or more other long-term conditions. Going forward, this area needs more research and clinical consideration.
“It’s vital for healthcare providers to understand the impact of chronic pain on health-related outcomes in order to inform the needs and management of care in people who experience chronic pain alongside other long-term conditions,” Dr Nicholl added.
The charity Versus Arthritis, meanwhile, has highlighted the value of this finding in the context of people suffering from arthritis, which often is accompanied by chronic, long-term pain.
Dr Neha Issar-Brown, director of research at Versus Arthritis, said: “Almost a third of people over the age of 45 with a major long-term condition also have a musculoskeletal condition such as arthritis and that is why we are pleased to have funded the first study to ascertain and understand the prevalence of chronic pain in people affected by multiple long-term conditions.
“These findings are important not only to improve our understanding of chronic pain associated with multiple long-term conditions but will also lead to improved management and treatments for the millions of people who experience the devastating impact of living with pain,” she added.