Did you know that over 26 million people worldwide suffer from nerve pain2? Did you also know that only 40% to 60% of patients achieve adequate pain relief3?
In Ireland, chronic pain currently affects around 1.65m people, with back pain being the most frequently reported site of pain4,1. Many of these patients have a difficult time describing their pain in a way that allows doctors to really understand the potential cause and the impact on their lives. More than 1 in 2 (52%) of Irish chronic pain sufferers indicated that they feel frustrated when trying to describe what their pain feels like, as it's difficult to locate and describe5. Also according to Irish research, chronic pain is most likely to have a negative impact on a personâ€™s ability to exercise (73%).5 Other negative impacts include chronic pain sufferersâ€™ ability to work (53%), socialise (45%) and their family relationships (34%).5
Almost half (49%) of chronic pain sufferers delay discussing their pain with a healthcare professional because they donâ€™t think it is serious enough.5 In fact, a study from 2011 showed that doctors over- or underestimate the level of pain-related impairment in 80% of patients.6
Yes, you read it correctly: up to 80% of patients! As a result, patients endure a drawn out â€˜trial and errorâ€™ treatment approach over months or even years. Meanwhile, patients may continue to suffer physically, and also emotionally, psychologically, and socially. Does this sound familiar to you?
If so, this is what the â€˜mypainfeelslike...â€™ initiative aims to improve!
The main goal of â€˜mypainfeelslike...â€™ is to support communication between patients and doctors. Pain is often difficult to describe. For example when defining localised nerve pain (also called localised neuropathic pain), patients tend to describe their individual pain experiences in rather pictographic ways like â€œmy pain feels like an electric shockâ€, â€œmy pain feels like a hot ironâ€, or â€œmy pain feels like a cut from a knifeâ€. Often doctors may not link these explanations to localised neuropathic pain as they learn the symptoms to be, for example, â€œburning painâ€, â€œstabbing painâ€, or â€œshooting painâ€. This mismatch in language causes misunderstandings that can lead to an inefficient â€˜trial and errorâ€™ treatment approach.
THE â€˜mypainfeelslike... QUESTIONNAIREâ€™
Our initiative enables patients to describe their chronic pain in a very detailed manner through the â€˜mypainfeelslikeâ€¦â€™ questionnaire. How does it work? People invest more time thinking about their symptoms, describing them more precisely, and preparing for doctorsâ€™ appointments. Doing so forces us to reconsider our chronic pain, and the different ways that we feel it. This improves our self-awareness, allows us to better communicate our situation, and helps us get the most value out of the very short time that we usually have during doctorsâ€™ appointments.