A study conducted in the United Kingdom has revealed that millions of Britons over the age of 50 choose to live with chronic pain rather than seeking medical treatment. The study was conducted by an orthopedics group called Fortius Clinic, and its findings may provide a cautionary tale for those living with pain in the United States.
According to the research, more than two in five of those classified as baby boomers experience chronic pain that’s bad enough to keep them from socializing, engaging in sports, driving, or even seeing friends, yet they still make a conscious decision to avoid or delay getting medical treatment. An astonishing 10 percent of those surveyed acknowledged that their chronic pain is impacting their overall outlook on life and their mental health.
The time period that the group found study participants wait before seeking medical attention averaged 16 months despite the availability of quality medical practitioners and the fact that their pain is stopping them from having a high quality of life.
The pain that was reported was not limited to back pain: common complaints included knee pain and hip pain, as well as neck and back pain. Speaking of their findings, Andy Williams, the clinic’s founding surgeon, said, “The number of people putting off seeking help for pain is staggering. Over 50s today are more active than ever and should be looking forward to so many more healthy years ahead – but by ignoring their pain and disability, and the success of joint replacement and other treatments, they are condemned to prolonged suffering.”
The study’s participants were asked why they had delayed seeking treatment. Forty-eight percent indicated that it was simply “easier” to deal with their pain, while 28 percent felt that they should endure it until it got worse. Others expressed worries about undergoing surgery, how long their rehabilitation would be, and whether they would experience pain despite seeking treatment.
Interestingly (and unsurprisingly), the survey also showed that in hindsight many regretted having waited so long before seeking treatment, with many acknowledging that they had needlessly put themselves through extended discomfort. As Dr. Williams said, “There’s really no reason for anyone to suffer in silence. Technology in healthcare is continuously improving for non-operative and surgical treatments.”
Though it is unclear whether the statistics discovered in the UK study would be replicated on this side of the Atlantic Ocean, there is no doubt that many people suffer needlessly with neck and back pain. Robotic surgery makes spine surgery much safer and allows procedures to be performed much less invasively and with much shorter recovery times. There are also many conservative treatment approaches that are highly successful, and which are generally pursued before surgery is considered or recommended.
If you are experiencing neck or back pain, don’t put up with it for one more day. Make an appointment with our spine specialty practice in New Jersey and get yourself back to the high quality of life and activity that you’re missing.