A Pain in the Neck? Research Reveals 1 in 2 Singaporeans are Living with Long-term Pain

July 2, 20199:11 am570 views

A recent survey by Singapore’s leading physiotherapy group Core Concepts finds that almost half (49 percent) of Singaporeans experiencing pain have lived with it for more than six months. Alarmingly, 92 percent of the respondents agree that long-term pain interferes with various aspects of their daily lives and causes a negative impact on the quality of life.

On top of inhibiting individuals from carrying out regular activities such as housework, exercise and self-care, pain can have a more pervasive impact on an individual’s daily life. Particularly with cases of persistent pain where pain lasts for more than three to six months, the constant suffering alters an individual’s mood, concentration, sleep patterns, and even their relationships with others. Despite this, a sizeable number of Singaporeans are not seeking prompt treatment. The survey results reveal that 33 percent of respondents will only start treating pain after a few weeks.

When asked about the long-term effects of not dealing with pain, Chng Chye Tuan, Senior Principal Physiotherapist, Core Concepts, said: “More Singaporeans should be aware of the importance of seeking prompt treatment. When pain persists for prolonged periods of time, there may be physiological changes in how pain is being processed and the magnitude of pain may be more than what is expected. If the pain does not go away after more than two weeks with appropriate rest, it is a telling sign for patients to seek professional help to uncover the root cause of the pain.”

Interestingly, younger Singaporeans tend to take a more cautious approach to pain and have a higher tendency to treat pain promptly. Based on survey findings, 18 percent of millennials aged 25- 35 years old will treat pain immediately or almost immediately, while only 6 percent of baby boomers aged 56 years and above will do the same.

Victor Khoo, Managing Director, Core Concepts, weighed in: “Younger Singaporeans tend to be more well-educated on personal health and are more exposed to the different types of treatments available on the market. For older Singaporeans, the belief that pain is an intrinsic part of ageing tends to influence their decisions on seeing a professional. They tend to seek treatment only when pain has significantly affected their ability to carry out daily activities.”

This corresponds to the survey findings, which show that 48 percent of Singaporeans will only start to treat pain when it is affecting their daily routine, especially in areas such as sports and exercise, walking and climbing stairs, housework and self-care.“When pain is not treated, our bodies will naturally find ways to compensate for it, but often at a cost. The process of compensation can alter the body’s movement patterns and be locked in as muscle memory, affecting the way we naturally move in the long run,” said Mr Chng.

When seeking a professional’s help to treat pain, the most popular treatments that respondents have tried include exercise and stretching, topical pain skin applications and medication. However, the treatment that provided the most relief (93 percent) was physiotherapy-related treatments such as manual therapy.

“Physiotherapy is an effective long-term solution to pain. It is evidence-based, and the clinical approach starts with the physiotherapist conducting a comprehensive analysis to study the biomechanics, movement and pain patterns related to the patient’s condition. By tackling the root cause of the pain, the treatment method respects the body’s healing timeframe and provides long- term relief,” Mr Chng concluded.

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