Suffering from pain costs Singapore more than $8 billion each year: Study

A patient receiving laser acupunture treatment for painful joints.
A patient receiving laser acupunture treatment for painful joints. PHOTO: BERITA HARIAN

SINGAPORE - Suffering from head or body pain is not just a personal issue. Pain sufferers here cost the economy $8.4 billion each year, according to findings of a study released on Tuesday (June 20) on the impact of head and body pain on people's lives.

Last year, workers in Singapore took an average of three days of medical leave because of pain, while those who worked through their pain had a reduced productivity of 15 per cent.

However, many are not seeking help for their ailments.

More than half of people here suffer in silence, while one in three ignore their pain - one of the highest proportions globally. Many chose to hide their pain for fear of worrying their family and loved ones.

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This is according to the 2017 GSK Global Pain Index, which surveyed 19,000 adults in 32 countries on acute, everyday pain experienced in areas such as their neck, back and legs.

"Pain is very disruptive, not only for the individual sufferer, but extends to nearly all aspects of their lives," said Dr Yeo Sow Nam, director of The Pain Specialist at Mount Elizabeth Hospital.

"While headaches, body aches and migraines might not seem to have serious consequences, the...index shows that if not managed effectively, pain can have a cumulative impact."

Globally, 85 per cent of people suffer from head and body pain - the same percentage as that of for sufferers in Singapore.

The study, commissioned by GSK Consumer Healthcare, was conducted by global insights and consultancy firm Edelman Intelligence.

The study also found that nearly two-thirds of Singaporeans self-diagnose their pain, despite having low levels of knowledge about their medicines.