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British Pain Society Press release: Chronic pain costs the UK £billions but research funding is inadequate

7th Mar 2018

Chronic pain costs the UK £billions but research funding is inadequate

Approximately 8 million adults in the UK  report chronic pain that is moderate to severely disabling[1]. Back pain alone accounts for 40% of sickness absence in the NHS[2] and overall it costs £10 billion for the UK economy[3].  The UK has some of the best pain services in the world and the multidisciplinary British Pain Society is at the forefront of informing the public and professionals of what is available.

However British Pain Society believes more research is essential to allow pain services to offer the latest effective and safest treatments.  Unfortunately pain research is not a priority for major UK funders.

The Focus on Pain Research Day, taking place on Wednesday 7 March, will bring together 95 researchers from different fields of pain research, to help strengthen this field and raise awareness. Most current major UK funding bodies will also take part. 

Dr. Andreas Goebel, lead of the British Pain Society’s Research Day’s Organising Committee says:

“Chronic pain affects a vast number of people in the UK. It is often destructive to peoples’ lives.

UK pain researchers are amongst the world leaders, but much more research funding is needed to develop meaningful advances and new treatments for our patients.

We are delighted that we will bring together both prominent and aspiring pain researchers from throughout the UK for this event.

The ‘Focus on Pain Research’ day is a first of its kind which we hope will foster crosstalk between groups, to generate new ideas and collaborations. 

This event will also showcase the strength and great diversity of the UK pain research community, and the enthusiasm of its researchers to both UK funders and the general public.”

The British Pain Society and Arthritis UK are collaborating on the Focus on Pain Research Day to raise awareness of the importance of improving the evidence base for treating pain.

Dr Stephen Simpson, Director of research and programmes at Arthritis Research UK, says:

“Millions of people with arthritis live in pain every day. It is often isolating and can stop people being able to do things most of us take for granted, like getting dressed or going to work.

We're determined to help people live fuller lives free from the pain of arthritis. That’s why we invest in research into the causes of pain, and ways to treat, manage or prevent it. 

We're delighted to be sponsoring this event, which will bring the research community together behind the challenge of tackling pain."

Almost everyone knows of someone whose life is impacted by chronic pain. We know that chronic pain is not only prevalent but expensive. What is less well known is the gap between discovering new scientific advances and how these can translate into the best prevention and treatment options for people affected by pain.

Patients with many long-term medical conditions put ‘pain relief’ at the top of their priority list, but more research into the causes and management of chronic pain is needed to discover how we can effectively support and treat people. British Pain Society is aiming to make pain a top priority for UK research funders.


[1] Von Korff M, Ormel J, Keefe FJ, Dworkin SF. Grading the severity of chronic pain. Pain 1992;50:133–49.



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