What is complex pain?

The burden of pain can have a major impact on sufferers and their families. The stakeholder document contains some helpful information on this important area. The impact and burden of pain will continue to get worse as the population lives to an older age with increasing obesity and inactivity.


Pain is very common and much of it is complex; it can cause wide ranging biopsychosocial issues that are often unrecognised and unaddressed. However, there are many strategies available that can prevent many of the biopsychosocial issues, many of which are best/most effective when implemented early. Therefore, we need to, if possible, detect the potential of, or presence of these issues, as early as possible with a view to preventing them or minimising their impact.


It could be argued that all pain is problematic; however, not all those with acute pain will develop chronic pain and there are people with such pain who are successfully self-managing. In a healthcare system that requires the appropriate cost effective allocation of resource to the appropriate patient, the stratification of risk and need is essential if both incidence and prevalence of this condition is to be effectively managed.


Education about pain amongst clinicians needs to be improved (Ellis et al 2012) and whilst there are some solutions in progress, for example, e-PAIN, pre-screening can help to drive this imperative and it is hoped will lead to non-pain specialist clinicians wanting to learn more about pain.  


Back to main A2Q page