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Chronic pain major cause of health loss

Media Release
12 August 2013

Chronic pain major cause of health loss second only to heart disease!

Arthritis New Zealand’s Chief Executive Sandra Kirby welcomed Dr Kieran Davis’s reference to the fact that chronic pain accounted for at least 5 per cent of the health loss recorded in the recently launched study ‘Health Loss in New Zealand’.

There seems to be little understanding in New Zealand that chronic pain is a burden similar in size to that of anxiety and depression. Both ranked second equal only to heart disease.

The Chronic Pain Health Report, commissioned in 2012, noted that chronic pain affects at least one in eight New Zealanders. In this survey just under half of people with chronic pain had some form of arthritis. "For people with arthritis living with pain is a complex and unavoidable reality, which has a profound effect on the wellbeing of individuals, families and communities," said Ms Kirby.

Arthritis New Zealand notes that services to manage chronic pain are under developed in New Zealand. As the 2012 pain report notes, regional pain services are under resourced and people suffering from chronic pain have to wait for months for this service. "Managing chronic pain requires multi-disciplinary approach that we don't seem to prioritise in health funding."

“The 2006 Health Loss data supports our stance that with an ageing population we can expect the costs of chronic pain to require far more of our health resources. A resourcing challenge we make to health funders,” Ms Kirby concluded.


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