The UK healthcare system has serious inefficiencies in dealing with patients with chronic pain, a new report claims.
The Pain Proposal European Consensus Report reveals that the average time people in the UK have to wait for chronic pain to be diagnosed is three years, twice as long as those in France, Belgium and Italy.
It then takes another three years before their pain is adequately managed.
The report also discovered that chronic pain is so severe that those who suffer from it are impacted on the ability to do their job for over a third of a day, while 40% cannot work at all.
Information was gathered through consultations with more than 50 experts, including doctors and patient group representatives, from 15 European countries.
The problem is compounded by the fact that chronic pain is not taken seriously enough by people in the UK, with over half of sufferers surveyed believing that people doubt the existence of their condition and over a quarter of them having been accused of using it as an excuse not to work.
The condition affects one in five people in Europe with nearly 8 million people in the UK suffering from many types of pain, the most common being back pain, joint problems and arthritis.
As well as affecting people's lives, poorly managed chronic pain is costing the UK health system millions. The condition accounts for 4.6 million GP appointments each year, at a cost of £69m.