Many Europeans Don't Get Help for Chronic Pain

But doctors say they always treat those who report musculoskeletal aches

THURSDAY, March 18, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- Half the people with musculoskeletal pain in Europe -- about 100 million individuals -- endure chronic pain because they don't receive treatment for their condition, says a study in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases.

Researchers conducted interviews with about 6,000 people with musculoskeletal pain and about 1,500 doctors in eight European countries -- England, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.

The survey revealed that management of musculoskeletal pain differed little between the countries and family doctors felt they did a good job of managing the condition. However, their patients didn't always share that view.

About one in four patients with musculoskeletal pain said they didn't seek medical help, even though between 60 percent and 75 percent of the patients surveyed said they suffered pain on a constant or daily basis, to the point that it limited routine activities.

Patients who did seek medical help often waited several months or years before doing so, the survey found. About half the patients who had consulted a doctor about musculoskeletal pain were not currently being treated for their pain.

The doctors in the survey said they offered all patients some form of treatment for their pain. And nearly all the doctors said they were trying to improve quality of life for those patients.

Non-steroidal anti inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) were the most common prescription drugs offered by the doctors to people with musculoskeletal pain. German doctors were more likely to recommend exercise, physiotherapy, herbal medicine and acupuncture to patients than doctors in the other countries.

More information

The Arthritis Foundation has information about osteoarthritis.

SOURCE: Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases, news release, March 17, 2004
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