Lives on hold: 2 in 5 baby boomers living in pain

  • Stoic over 50s delay seeking treatment for an average
  • But two thirds of pain sufferers are prevented from living lives to the full
  • One in 10 reveal pain has affected their mental health

Baby boomers in the UK are needlessly suffering in pain, preventing many from living their lives to the fullest.

Two in five (42%) over 50s are currently living with pain - such as knee, hip, back or neck pain - and 85 per cent have suffered over the last two years, according to a new study* from leading orthopaedic experts group, Fortius Clinic.

The pain is so severe that two thirds (63%) of sufferers have been prevented from leading normal lives, being unable to drive, see friends or play sports, with one in 10 admitting it has affected their mental health.

But despite living in crippling pain, many (64%) are suffering in silence by either putting off or never seeking treatment. On average, those who delay treatment do so for a staggering 16 months.

Knee pain causes the longest suffering, with 57 per cent delaying or never getting treatment and those who delay doing so for an average of 17 months. Hip pain is the most commonly ignored with 63 per cent of people delaying treatment or not seeking it at all. Those who delay do so for an average of 14.5 months.

Women with hip pain are some of the most reluctant to seek help, being twice as likely to delay treatment for up to a year in comparison to men (31% vs 16%).

A stoic generation, nearly half of those who put off treatment (48%) felt it was 'easier' to carry on in discomfort while over a quarter (28%) believed they should live with the pain for as long as possible. Concerns about the surgery, recovery time and ongoing pain were also major factors for delaying treatment (12%, 12%, 10% respectively).

However, the study found that in hindsight some regretted their decision to delay, with one in five (19%) wishing they had sought help sooner and 14 per cent considering self-funding to access treatment more quickly next time.

The research comes as leading orthopaedic clinic Fortius announces the launch of the new specialist Fortius Joint Replacement Centre, in partnership with Bupa Cromwell Hospital, designed to bring the latest robotic technology and best possible surgical outcomes to patients requiring knee or hip replacements.

With knees (37%) and hips (24%) two of the most common causes of pain for the over 50s in the last two years, orthopaedic experts argue this group should stop putting their lives on hold and seek help sooner rather than later if symptoms are sufficiently bad.

Andy Williams, Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon and founder surgeon at Fortius Clinic said: “The number of people putting off seeking help for joint pain is staggering. Over 50s today are more active than ever and should be looking forward to so many more healthy years ahead - but by ignoring their pain and disability, and the success of joint replacement, they are condemned to prolonged suffering.

“And there’s really no reason for anyone to suffer in silence. Technology in healthcare is continuously improving for non-operative and surgical treatments. We’re now able to use techniques such as robotics, using the MAKO robot, and 3D printing to make bespoke, personalised prostheses that give uniform, high quality surgery to allow people to keep doing the things they love."

Philip Luce, Director of Bupa Cromwell Hospital said: “The new Fortius Joint Replacement Centre at Bupa Cromwell Hospital gives patients access to the best facilities and latest technology, coupled with world-leading clinicians. At the Centre we offer state-of-the-art robotic technology and an enhanced patient experience with quicker recovery times so there’s really no reason to put off seeking help if you are in pain.”

The top 5 causes of pain in the over 50s:

  1. Back (51%)
  2. Knee (37%)
  3. Shoulder (26%) 
  4. Hip (24%) 
  5. Neck (23%)

Notes to Editors

*Research conducted online by Opinium among 1,013 over 50s in the UK, between 2nd and 7th February 2018.