Chronic pain is the norm for 50% of people with long-term conditions

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According to a UK study, those with multimorbidity are statistically between two and four times as likely to experience chronic pain

A study from the University of Glasgow, is the first to explore the prevalence of chronic pain in people with multiple long-term conditions.

Multimorbidity is the presence of two or more long-term health conditions which can include defined mental or physical conditions. According to this research, 53.8% people with two or three long-term conditions and 75% of those with 4 or more long-term conditions reported at least one site of chronic pain.

Chronic pain is defined as pain that is ongoing and usually lasts longer than six months. This type of pain can continue even after the injury or illness that caused it has healed or gone away and is usually linked to ongoing conditions.

According to a piece in the Lancet “Across Europe, an estimated 100 million people have chronic pain, while the number is more than 50 million adults in the USA”. A recent study reported that approximately 43% of UK adults live with chronic pain; and between 11% and 17% report widespread pain.

In more than 31 different health conditions examined, the University of Glasgow’s study found that more than 50% of those people experienced chronic pain.

Participants with four or more long-term conditions were over three times likely to have chronic pain and more than 13 times as likely to have widespread chronic pain as those with no long-term conditions.

How important is this research?

Senior Lecturer at the University’s Institute of Health and Wellbeing, Dr Barbara Nicholl said: “This study is important because it highlights a much-neglected area of healthcare – namely the coexistence of chronic pain and multimorbidity.”

Chronic pain is something that millions suffer with around the globe and is widely overlooked especially when concerning certain demographics such as ethnicity and gender. This study will hopefully bring attention to the increasing amount of people suffering from chronic pain and push future research into finding better ways to manage and treat it.

“Going forward, this area needs more research and clinical consideration.”


The study, ‘Prevalence of chronic pain in LTCs and multimorbidity: A cross-sectional study using UK Biobank,’ is published in the Journal of Multimorbidity and Comorbidity. The study was funded by Versus Arthritis.


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