Chronic pain and rheumatic diseases in Europe - statistics & facts
Rheumatic diseases include ailments such as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and gout which in severe cases can leave the sufferer unable to do basic daily tasks. Chronic pain has been defined as pain that lasts longer than three months despite the use of medication or therapy. Rheumatic diseases commonly cause chronic pain, although there are more conditions that can be the cause, such as back pain, fibromyalgia, and nerve damage. In particular, back pain is becoming an increasingly common problem in Europe due to, in part, inactive lifestyles.
Incidence in Europe
In 2019, around 917 women and 664 men per 100,000 were diagnosed with osteoarthritis in Europe. The incidence of osteoarthritis has been increasing across Europe since 1990 and is much more common in women compared to men. Additionally, the incidences of musculoskeletal disorders and low back pain were much higher among women than men across the continent. The occurrences of these two conditions have likewise increased over the last 30 years. As of 2019, over 15 percent of the population in countries such as Denmark, Germany, and Portugal suffered from low back pain.
Digital health use
The rise in the use of digital health has been witnessed in recent years and was particularly accelerated in the pandemic-affected year of 2020. Digital health options could be very important for sufferers of chronic pain since they usually need a great deal of interaction with health systems. Over 20 percent of chronic pain sufferers in Europe reported to a study that the main reason they used eHealth/mHealth was to self-manage their condition. While a further eight percent primarily used eHealth devices to monitor their daily activities. Over 50 percent of respondents believed that health apps benefitted the health of chronic pain sufferers, and around 40 percent indicated that it improved their relationship with their physician.
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