Ouch! 52% of adults say they battle daily physical pain, struggle to function

LONDON — Millions of people are apparently unable to exercise, sleep, or even endure a long journey in a car due to constant and debilitating pain. A new survey of 2,000 adults in the United Kingdom found 52 percent report they experience some kind of regular, physical pain, such as back aches, arthritis, or skin conditions.

Of these respondents, 35 percent can’t comfortably exercise, and three in 10 find it impossible to get a full night’s sleep. Even walking up the stairs proves to be an almost impossible task for 23 percent of adults, while one in five need help getting up off the sofa. Being away from home, attending long meetings, and enjoying a soak in the tub are also a major feat for many.

“It is staggering how many people feel unable to do everyday tasks such as climbing the stairs or even walking, due to the pain they are experiencing,” says Gareth Lucy, a spokesman for hygiene and health company Essity, which commissioned the research, in a statement.

“Our research revealed 18 different kinds of activities – some relatively stationary such as reading or watching TV – which can be difficult for some. We were keen to highlight these issues to help raise awareness and develop a level of understanding from those that might not realize what others are going through.”

young adult sick pain
(Credit: Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels)

The OnePoll research also found 44 percent of those with a condition such as irritable bowel syndrome, diabetes, or perimenopause feel their effects daily, and the “average” sufferer loses up to three nights of sleep every week.

Other tasks considered a real challenge for some include driving, eating, talking to others, and socializing. Another 56 percent admit they would rather not talk to others about their physical ailments, with a fifth of those who still work refusing to let their boss or colleagues know.

Saying “I’m fine” to others, even when the opposite might be true, is a common occurrence for 86 percent of sufferers. Key reasons for remaining tight-lipped include wanting to forget about things as much as possible (45%), being thought of as incapable (41%), and being treated differently (38%). Others simply don’t want to be thought of as old (34%) or be judged (32%).

“Everybody has a part to play,” Lucy adds. “Those struggling with painful or debilitating conditions should know that help is out there and they should feel confident enough to speak to a healthcare professional who can advise them on the right products and treatment.”

“And for those fortunate enough not to live with a condition like this, we need to work to ensure places of work are equitable and inclusive, where there is understanding and support for those that need it.”

18 Activities Those With A Physical Condition Struggle To Do:

  1. Exercise
  2. Sleep
  3. Long journeys
  4. Sit on the floor
  5. Walk up the stairs
  6. Movement in general
  7. Get up off the sofa
  8. Be away from home for long periods of time
  9. Attend long meetings
  10. Taking a bath
  11. Ride a bike
  12. Socialize
  13. Go to work
  14. Drive
  15. Talk to others
  16. Eat
  17. Watch TV
  18. Read

South West News Service writer Emma Elsworthy contributed to this report.

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