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Joint Pain Matters 2021: the life impact of joint pain

Joint Pain Matters 2021 examines the findings of a survey of 8545 people battling join pain. Responses show that joint pain can have a devastating impact on a person's life, often wreaking havoc on romantic relationships, career, social lives and mental health. We take a closer look.

Joint pain affects millions of the people in the UK.

It is a very common issue with many possible causes and symptoms. Joint pain can come and go or it can be present daily. People can experience joint pain in one joint or several.

According to the NHS, the knee joint is probably the most frequently damaged joint, because it takes the full weight of your body and is therefore vulnerable.

Joint pain affects millions of people, yet the impact of it on daily life is not often spoken about. 

Through our Joint Pain Matters 2021 report, we asked 8545 people aged 16-75+ what living with joint pain is really like. We explore how joint pain can significantly affect daily life below.

Joint pain symptoms can vary depending on whether they are caused by a joint pain condition or trauma.

Different joint pain conditions have different symptoms, but the more general symptoms of joint pain are:

Aching pain;
Stabbing pain;
Heat across your joint;
Tenderness;
Swelling;
Stiffness, and
Weakness.

Treatment options differ depending on the root cause of joint pain.

You can speak with your Consultant about the many different treatment options for joint pain and which option would be best for you.

Severe joint pain significantly impacts a person’s quality of life. It interferes with romantic relationships, social life, family life, career progression, sleep patterns and physical activity. Cumulatively, these aspects of life shape a person’s mental wellbeing and overall sense of self.

More than two thirds (68.88%) of respondents to our Joint Pain Matters survey reported that joint pain has impacted their mental health. More women than men said that joint pain has impacted their mental wellbeing, with 73.36% of respondents saying their mental health was impacted a ‘little’,‘significantly’ or ‘massively’.

This compares with only 57.6% of men. More than a quarter (25.75%) of our survey respondents say they struggle to deal with their joint pain, which reflects its
severe and debilitating nature.

If this information resonates with you, you can speak with a chosen Consultant about how to manage joint pain and improve your quality of life.

Pain disturbs sleeping patterns and ability to fall asleep. Overall, more than a third (37.38%) of respondents said that their sleep is disrupted by joint pain every night. Studies by The National Library of Medicine show that about 50% to 70% of people with rheumatoid arthritis suffer from disturbed sleep as a result of chronic pain.

Sleep is extremely important. Restorative sleep, which comprises the completion of all five stages of sleep is vital for brain function. It releases growth hormones that
repair the cells in the body, allowing people to heal and grow.

Restorative sleep also helps regulate emotions. 

Unfortunately, lack of sleep induced by chronic pain can lead to a vicious cycle of no sleep and increased sensitivity to pain, due to lack of repairment and growth. This cycle is sometimes referred to as “painsomnia”, a term coined by members of the rheumatoid arthritis community.

The British Pain Society says that chronic pain affects more than two fifths of the UK population, meaning that about 28 million adults are living with pain that has lasted for three months or longer. Studies show that sleep disorders affect nearly half of people reporting chronic pain, with a quarter suffering from clinical insomnia and therefore a lack of restorative sleep.

If this information resonates with you, you can speak with a chosen Consultant about how to manage joint pain and improve your quality of life.

There are many social implications associated with joint pain, which interfere with a person’s social life, family life and romantic relationships.

People with joint pain often miss social events, because they are in too much pain to attend them. More than half (57.12%) of respondents have missed an event because of joint pain.

One respondent said: “Family members and friends miss me at events. I either can’t stay long or don’t go at all, because I’m in pain. Sometimes, they don’t even invite me because they know I’ll miss it anyway.”

Similar to the way that chronic pain and poor sleep work as a vicious cycle, so does chronic pain and limited social activity. If a person is in pain, they don’t always have the ability or desire to leave home and socialise. This results in feelings of isolation and detachment. It also puts strain on relationships.

Arthritis Action reports: “People with arthritis feel isolated, scared about the future and don’t want to ask family, friends or doctors for help”.

If this information resonates with you, you can speak with a chosen Consultant about how to manage joint pain and improve your quality of life.

The same goes for romantic relationships. 49.29% say that joint pain has affected their romantic relationships. One respondent remarked: “I can’t go out. I can’t meet new people. Joint pain makes me feel less confident, so I don’t want to meet new people, anyway.”

Again, this vicious cycle of pain and inability to socialise causes a person with joint pain to experience a lack of confidence and feel isolated.

If this information resonates with you, you can speak with a chosen Consultant about how to manage joint pain and improve your quality of life.

Across survey responses, several themes emerged. According to results, people with chronic joint pain are understandably irritable at times, causing animosity among family members.

This makes them feel detached from loved ones.

Some respondents also feel a sense of guilt, because they are not the number one caregiver in their home.

In our survey, 39.54% of respondents felt that joint pain affected the people around them. One respondent said: “People think I’m exaggerating about the pain. I’ve stopped talking about it because I’m sick of people associating me with pain.”

If this information resonates with you, you can speak with a chosen Consultant about how to manage joint pain and improve your quality of life.

Our findings show that men are less likely to seek professional help for joint pain than women, with 23.91% of men waiting between five to ten years or more before seeing a healthcare professional for joint pain.

This compares with 21.8% of women, who waited between five to ten years or more to see a healthcare professional for joint pain. Although a higher number of women participated in our survey (71.53% compared with 28.16% of men), the above statistic reflects a wider male health crisis across the UK.

According to research by The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) in 2021, men avoid visiting their GP for a number of reasons, including:

  • Having difficulty expressing health fears;
  • A knowledge of healthcare services is limited, or
  • The infuence of social class, morbidity and mortality on male journeys to accessing healthcare.

Not visiting a GP has serious consequences (delayed diagnosis). By avoiding visits, men are more likely to receive a delayed diagnosis for health issues. This could impact their overall chances of survival.

In 2021, the male health crisis is still highly prevalent. Now, more research has been done to determine that men are less likely to access healthcare than woman, because of damaging gender attitudes.

The Mental Health Foundation states: “Societal expectations and traditional gender roles play a role in why men are less likely to discuss or seek help for their mental health problems. We know that gender stereotypes about women — the idea they should behave or look a certain way, for example – can be damaging to them. But it’s important to understand that men can be damaged by stereotypes and expectations too."

If this information resonates with you, you can speak with a chosen Consultant about how to manage joint pain and improve your quality of life.

There are many treatment options for joint pain available, including:

AC joint repairs: The aim goal behind this surgical repair is to reconstruct damaged ligaments and remove the damaged end of the clavicle, restoring stability and motion in your joint while helping reduce pain, as well.

Steroid injection therapy: Injection therapy is the injection of steroid (corticosteroid) medications into painful joints or soft tissues to reduce pain and inflammation.

Hip replacement surgery: Your consultant orthopaedic surgeon will make an incision on the side of your hip and will completely remove the damaged ball and socket, which will then be replaced with an artificial joint.

Kneecap joint replacement surgery: A kneecap replacement operation is a procedure to replace the patella (kneecap) in the knee joint. The procedure involves replacing damaged bone and cartilage with plastic or metal components.

Hip debridement surgery: Hip debridement surgery offers the correction of an abnormality in the hip joint where there may be excessive bone or abnormal tissue present.

Cognitive behaviouraly therapy (CBT): If you are struggling with the impact of joint pain on daily life, CBT can help you manage destructive thought patterns and build coping techniques.  

Speak with your Consultant which treatment option is best for you.

If you’re suffering with joint pain and would like help to manage your symptoms or diagnose your problem, we’re here to help.

You can book a consultation with one of our orthopaedic consultants online, or call us on 0808 296 4259.

To download your copy of Joint Pain Matters 2021 for more expert commentary and analysis, click here. 

It’s quick and simple to download.

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