Helping you towards permanent relief from back pain, neck pain, and sciatica
Rachel's blog
Appletree Clinic Logo

Rachel's Blog

Patients put up with so much!

Pasted Graphic
There's a lot in the news at the moment about hospital waiting lists being worse than ever, but behind those alarming numbers is hidden an even more worrying statistic - the huge volume of people suffering chronic pain who are not even on those waiting lists.

Around 15.5 million people in England (34% of the population) have chronic pain, meaning they've suffered for three months or more, according to a survey by Public Health England. Approximately 5.5 million people (12% of the population) have high-impact chronic pain and struggle to take part in daily activities, and 10 million people (22% of the population) have low-impact chronic pain.

Analysis of the survey reveals that musculoskeletal conditions such as osteoarthritis, back and neck pain are the most common cause of chronic pain. About eight in every ten people (84%) with chronic pain report that at least some of their chronic pain is in the neck or shoulder, back, limbs or extremities – all sites where pain is most likely to be musculoskeletal (25% neck or shoulder pain, 42% back pain, and 55% pain in arms, hands, hips, legs, or feet).

And while surgery certainly isn't the solution for everyone, far too many people just put up with their pain.

I've seen this first hand. Before setting up Appletree Clinic I spent some time working in Primary Care across various GP Surgeries. Most of my career had been spent working in hospitals - both clinics and operating theatres - where the patients we saw had usually been referred by doctors or other specialists, or arrived in A&E requiring emergency spinal or neurological surgery. I wanted to gain deeper knowledge of how patients are dealt with when they turn up and first report their symptoms.

So worked for a few months in local practices in North Yorkshire, seeng patients face to face, and for a practice in London offering video consultations. What struck me was just how many people are suffering with long-term pain conditions, and how many of them just seem to be living with mobility problems and taking regular painkillers.

It seems the system just isn't geared up to solve chronic problems, and instead often people spend years trying various sorts of treatments like physiotherapy, chiropractic or massage, alongside painkillers - but never really getting to the root of the problem, and so never finding lasting relief. I've got huge respect for my medical colleagues and this isn't in any way meant to be critical. And I'm not going to get too far into the politics of NHS funding and why this is the case, but when budgets are pressed and spinal surgery costs a great deal more than a packet of ibuprofen and a short course of physiotherapy, it's perhaps obvious what's likely to happen, initially at least. For some people the physio works - great! But for many more, a different approach is needed. And it starts with a proper diagnosis.

In setting up Appletree Clinic I know I'm not going to make any significant difference to the statistics. If 15.5 million with chronic pain becomes 15.4 million I'll be delighted! For me it's not about the numbers … it's about the world of difference it can make to just one human being, and their family, if they get some respite, and can start to move around and resume their life as it was before. That's what it's all about for me, and I just hope I can help a small number of people in a meaningful way.