Survey: Life a Daily Struggle for People in Pain

Survey: Life a Daily Struggle for People in Pain

A new survey of chronic pain patients found that life is a daily struggle for nearly all of them and many often feel they don’t get the support they need. Over two-thirds (69%) experience pain daily.

The national survey of 1,255 adults with chronic pain also found that half (50%) believe their family and friends doubt how bad their pain is. Most (55%) are reluctant to tell people they are taking prescription pain medicines and a majority (57%) says their healthcare professional is reluctant to prescribe some medications.

The poll, conducted on behalf of Teva Pharamaceuticals, also included 505 caregivers. The survey was conducted in part to help publicize an upcoming documentary on chronic pain on the Discovery Channel.

Other key findings of the survey:

  • 94% of people with chronic pain feel that living with pain is a daily struggle.
  • 91% say it is disruptive to their daily lives. 40% say it is very disruptive.
  • 88% say they sometimes feel like a burden asking other people for help.
  • 67% say their pain is a burden to their spouses.
  • 56% say they are a burden their children.
  • 17% say they have nobody to turn to for help.

While pain is a major component of their lives, the survey found that many pain patients are complacent about their treatment and often don’t utilize alternative care treatments.

  • Only 35% use physical therapy to relieve pain and only 55% use exercise.
  • 51% say their doctor has not set any goals beyond pain reduction for their treatment plan.
  • 31% say they never or rarely discuss with their doctors whether their treatment plans should be changed.

Caregivers were found to play significant roles in the lives of pain patients:

  • 95% of caregivers say they help pain patients with daily tasks
  • 50% work with healthcare providers to develop a treatment plan for those they help.
  • 40% of caregivers wish there were others who would help.
  • 37% of caregivers struggle to balance their own needs with those of their loved one in pain.

The survey “Individual Burdens of Chronic Pain” is being released to coincide with the premier of “Pain Matters,” which airs November 16 on the Discovery Channel. The documentary looks at the lives of six people living with chronic pain, including a U.S. Navy veteran and a two-time Stanley Cup-winning hockey player.  You can see a preview of the show here.

Authored by: Pat Anson, Editor

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Kathryn Benedic

I have lived with chronic pain most of my adult life and have come to realize that pain is personal What I feel, may not be the same as you and visa versa. Each of us do the best we can with what resources we have.

It sometimes takes years to even find a doctor that believes it is not all in your head, and sends us down the “mental” road, only to find out that whatever issues we have emotionally, are only the byproducts of a challenging life dealing with chronic pain. So, it boils down to the old saying of what comes first the chicken or the egg?

If the medical community is not able, or is unwilling, to provide understanding, compassion, and empathy for their chronic pain patients, then they are in the wrong line of business. It usually takes us years of searching out a doctor that really gives a damn!

My symptoms began in 1981 and I finally found a medical helping hand and heart in the mid 90s. Those years in between were a living Hell, doubting myself, and being treated sub-human, as everything in my life was changing every day as the pain was getting worse, and there was nowhere to turn for understanding and help. Those were truly the lost and hopeless years.

As Pain Management began to specialize in the medical world, a new world opened up for me and many others that had been suffering in silence, for fear of being ridiculed and judged the minute we mentioned the word “pain”. Now, there is at least hope for patients like us. It may come in various types of treatment, for we are all different, and so is our pain.

Like I said in the beginning of my rambling statement…….pain is personal. There is no quick fix that fits everyone but their are now options for treatment. The hope for each of us is that something might just work, even if it is only for a while, and then a new treatment plan must be explored.

“We’ve come a long way baby”.


Having had chronic pain condition, have to say that body-mind/stress sensitization was cause for me and I found incredible relief with Dr. Schubiner Unlearn your pain program, now large study NIH funded looking at this cognitive models, to increase frontal “top-down” suppression, plasticity, has to engage the power of mental force/mind if it will ever regulate. Not easy to identify the psychophysiologic sources as much of that is unconscious but he’s very good at helping identify and teaching how to reverse the physiologic change in brain. Used to focus on the endless biomedical model, focus on MRIs, etc, but problem is in the central nervous system not the peripheral tissues as the biomedical model misleads people, really terrible, in fact that model usually reinforces ideas that keep one from looking at the true nature of pain. Also very much found Explain Pain model and imagery model from Australia helpful part of this reframe/solution from PT. Good luck, you don’t have to stay in pain!

Kirby Accardo

I have been dealing with CRPS II and degenerative disk disease with spinal stenosis for over 17 years. I have gone down the Interventional Pain side with Lumbar Sympathetic Blocks, other types of blocks, RF procedures where nerves are burned near spinal canal, two stimulators – one spinal cord stimulator and one peripheral stimulator, an intrathecal pain pump which I had to take out in 9 months as it was shutting down my endocrinology system. Suffered a Pulmonary Embolism in the surgery to take out the pain pump. Been on more anti-seizure, pain medication, anti-depressants, and other medications used for other reasons but might just help. I had to give up a wonderful job in 2001 due to the constant pain. Always worried about keeping insurance. Given up the Interventional side as I could take no more needles or anesthesia. Working with a Physical Medicine Doctor now via medicine management. I am working with a new Primary Care physician as I was sick of my other one just blaming everything on the CRPS and not running test when I could have other issues. This is barely life and I worry were will I go from here as I am only 54. I have so much fear of what will happen to me as the years go by.

Janice Reynolds RN, BC, OCN, CHPN

It was funny I saw this today as I just had a discussion with my son minutes ago about my pain. My pain is usually well controlled by a multifocal pain plan (medications and non-pharmacological interventions) but I do have bad days and yesterday was a doozy. I waited too long to take breakthrough medication and then felt like I wanted to die while waiting for it to kick in (it takes 1 hour 15 minutes).
There are so many components to chronic pain that weren’t looked it (like how many people can’t even get a provider) or misinterpreted this survey can only be seen as a starting off point. Even when you have a good pain plan in place living with pain on a daily basis is a challenge. The fact that so many providers and the public still see people with pain through judgmental and prejudiced eyes tells us of the barriers we still have to hurdle.


Complacent? Uhhh, wrong word choice! When you do something over and over and over and DON’T get positive results then you eventually learn to move on to other treatment options.

“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again while expecting different results.”

I exercised religiously and attended PT for YEARS and neither one helped. Finally, I smartened up and moved on to other strategies.

As for discussing treatment plans with doctors: Most doctors simply become frustrated and provide even worse care. Or they take back medications that ARE working. It’s VERY, VERY hard to find a doctor that can successfully handle working with chronic pain patients.


As Anne already mentioned, complacent is not a correct description for many of us with chronic pain. Most of us have sought treatment, sometimes for years, with all kinds of physicians and therapies. We learn as we go that many of the alternative methods increase pain.
I read those results to be that 31% get relief of SOME symptoms by PT, and 55% get SOME benefit from exercise. Not that everyone else hasn’t tried these therapies.


The interpretation of these results is questionable, especially the portion about pain patients being “complacent”. It is entirely possible that the behaviors cited (not attending physical therapy, or discussing changes in treatment plans with their physician) are due to external limitations (e.g. insurance benefit limits, financial constraints, unwillingness of physician to consider alternative therapies, etc.) as they are due to so-called “complacence” on the patient’s part. How disappointing that Teva chose to interpret the results this way and publish them with such misleading language.

For those of us with intractable pain conditions, such as Arachnoiditis, life IS pain. We have to try to learn to find life in pain. It never ends.

Thanks for posting this, Pat. Sounds a lot like my life. I’m really pleased to see research ask these very important questions.