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More podiatrists needed to help 43% of UK population in chronic pain

Wednesday 3rd August 2016
Between one-third and half of the UKs population suffers from chronic pain, according to a new study. Image: Jay_Zynism via iStock
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More podiatrists may be needed to provide treatment and care for the growing number of people in the UK who suffer from chronic pain, whether that's in their feet, ankles, other joints, muscles or nerves.

New research published in the online journal BMJ Open showed that around 43 per cent of adults in Britain suffer from some form of chronic pain occasionally, if not all of the time, equating to approximately 28 million people in total.

Chronic pain was defined as lasting for three months or longer, with scientists analysing data from 1,737 articles based on 19 previous studies involving around 140,000 adults to determine exactly how many people are in this situation.

This analysis showed that rheumatoid arthritis affecting the joints, fibromyalgia - a musculoskeletal condition that affects 5.5 per cent of the population - and chronic neuropathic or chronic widespread pain affect millions of people throughout the UK.

As a result, there may be opportunities for more podiatrists and other specialist medical professionals to provide their care and expertise to these patients, particularly as many people may be in pain without having yet received a proper diagnosis.

Overall, the research found that between 35 and 51 per cent of the adult population suffer from chronic pain, with ten to 14 per cent experiencing pain that is moderately to severely disabling, totalling eight million people altogether.

In addition, it was discovered that the prevalence rate of chronic pain among 18 to 39-year-olds is around 30 per cent, but this increases dramatically to a prevalence rate of almost two-thirds (62 per cent) among those aged 75 and over.

The study authors concluded: "Such prevalence data does not itself define need for care or targets for prevention, but reliable information on prevalence will help to drive public health and healthcare policymakers' prioritisation of this important cause of distress and disability in the general population."

Written by Angela Newbury

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