Public should not underestimate pain, experts caution

Cai Wenjun
Public awareness on the harm caused by pain and proper knowledge on pain prevention and control is lacking, according to a survey released this week.
Cai Wenjun

Pain has become the third leading health threat following cerebro-cardiovascular disease and tumors. However, public awareness on the harm caused by pain and proper knowledge on pain prevention and control is lacking, according to a survey released during the Global Day Against Pain and the Chinese Week Against Pain this week.

The survey, conducted by five medical teams in Beijing, Chongqing, Shanghai, Wuhan and Guangzhou, found pain of the neck, shoulders; legs, and waist, as well as soft tissue pain; neuralgia, and pain due to cancer were the most common chronic pains reported in outpatient service, while pain related to shingles covered up to 40 percent of pain.

Moreover, middle-aged and elderly people with underlying diseases were more likely to suffer pain.

Medical experts said there was much misunderstanding of pain among the public. Many people thought pain was not a disease and did not require hospital treatment, while others thought painkillers were harmful and refused to take medicine. Some people also believed pain could be cured completely through simple treatment.

"Pain is a signal generated by the body," said Dr Fan Bifa, director of China-Japan Friendship Hospital's pain department. "Timely diagnosis and proper treatment are very important. Some pain can't be solved completely through one or two therapies. Doctors should conduct comprehensive evaluations to design their treatment through cooperation with patients and families to help them avoid and reduce pain for better quality of life.

Medics urged people with chronic disease to be especially aware of pain, which is closely related to age and underlying diseases. Research found that the risk of pain increased along with chronic respiratory disease, heart disease, kidney disease, and digestive disease, while these chronic diseases also made the pain more severe.

In addition, pain was related to poor posture, insufficient exercise, unhealthy diet, and mental stress. A healthy lifestyle, appropriate use of health tonics to strengthen bone health, and voluntary vaccinations for diseases including flu, pneumonia, and shingles to reduce the risk of infectious diseases, were all helpful for pain prevention and control, doctors said.

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