The Grünenthal Foundation and the Pain Observatory of the University of Cadiz, with the support of BioInnova Consulting, presented the ‘Barometer of chronic pain in Spain 2022’ on 25 April, as part of the ‘Pain Forum: New challenges in addressing chronic pain in Spain.
This study, which has been carried out through 7,058 interviews with residents throughout the country aged between 18 and 85 years, analyses the situation of the impact of chronic pain and reveals that this disease has a high presence in our country, affecting 25.9% of the adult population, which means more than 9 million people. In the case of Aragon, this percentage is 25.8%. In relation to sex, women have a higher prevalence of the disease (30.5%) than men (21.3%).
In terms of age, people between 55 and 75 years of age have the highest prevalence (30.6%), with the population between 18 and 34 years of age being the least affected by chronic pain (18.8%). The average age of these patients is 51.5 years. The study also shows that patients with chronic pain suffer from the disease for an estimated 6.8 years and the average perceived pain intensity is 6.8 points on a scale from 0 (no pain) to 10 (unbearable pain).
Dr. Inmaculada Failde, director of the Pain Observatory for the University of Cadiz, pointed out that the aim of the study “is to update the information available on chronic pain and its approach, providing a better understanding of what chronic pain is and what it represents on a social, economic and health care level”.
For her part, Ana Martins, president of the Grünenthal Foundation, stressed that the Barometer was launched “to contribute to one of the basic objectives of this Foundation, which is to provide knowledge about chronic pain and generate social and health awareness about its impact on the people who suffer from it and their environment, as well as on society as a whole”.
27.1% do not know the cause of the disease.
Chronic pain, which is pain that occurs continuously for more than four days a week and has persisted for at least three months, usually has a diagnosed origin, with low back pain being the most common, affecting 58.1% of patients. However, 27.1% do not know the cause of their disease, which makes it difficult to approach the treatment. The most common anatomical location of the pain is in the extremities and/or joints in 33.1% of patients.
The Barometer shows that 28.6% of patients with chronic pain have required time off work as a cause of pain in the last year, with this proportion standing at 46.5% among paid workers. The need for sick leave has caused 32.3% of patients to give up their previous occupation and 17.3% to change their job. In relation to daily activities, patients with chronic pain have a significant lack of autonomy to perform them. Getting out of a chair or out of bed are the most problematic activities: 59.9% have some difficulty or are unable to perform them, and 10.7% receive help.
It should also be noted that 22.2% of patients suffer from depression and 27.6% from anxiety, which shows the importance of prevention and mental health care in the field of chronic pain.
Traumatology, speciality consulted by 47.7% of patients
Chronic pain affects the patient physically, mentally and socially. Some 42.1% of those affected have visited health services in the last month, with Primary Care being the reference service, visited by 86.7% of patients. Among the specialised services, used by 69.4%, Traumatology is the most demanded speciality, consulted by 47.7% of patients receiving specialised care.
The study is structured in two parts: background on chronic pain disease and the Barometer of chronic pain in Spain. In the first part, the disease is presented, which allows a picture of the situation of chronic pain to be sketched, defining its main characteristics and putting into context its importance in order to favour knowledge and understanding of the disease. In the second part, the central axis of the work, a study of chronic pain in Spain is presented in order to obtain updated data on the disease.