Hidden cost of teen pain in the UK almost 4 billion per year

Teenagers living with chronic pain could be costing the UK more than 3.8 billion each year, according to a new study published in the journal Pain today.

Almost one in ten adolescents experience severe headaches, stomach cramps or musculoskeletal pains that keep them away from school regularly.

As part of a year-long study, the researchers have calculated that the average annual cost of treating and managing adolescent pain is more than 8,000 per patient per year, giving a conservative estimate of more than 3.8 billion for the UK as a whole.

"We hope that this establishes the seriousness of adolescent pain in a way that will help improve the provision of services in this chronically under-treated area," said Professor Chris Eccleston from the Pain Management Unit at the University of Bath and the Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases.

"Chronic pain in adulthood is one of the most costly conditions in modern Western society, but very little is known about the costs of chronic pain in adolescence.

"Adolescents who experience persistent or recurrent pain also experience high levels of distress, use more health services, have more mental health and social problems, are absent from more school and tend to do worse academically than those without pain.

"Although we are beginning to know more about the psychological and social burden of chronic adolescent pain, we don't know much about the financial costs of living with, or caring for, an adolescent with chronic pain."

"Costs of the kind we have uncovered warrant attention on a national basis."

Researchers from the Pain Management Unit, the University of Kent and the London School of Economics surveyed more than 50 families who have an adolescent child who has recently used pain management services.

They asked parents to outline the additional costs that they have incurred as a direct or indirect result of their child's condition, as well as

Contact: Tony Trueman
University of Bath

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