Distinctiveness of long-term pain that does not interfere with life: An observational cohort study

K. P. Jordan*, J. Sim, A. Moore, M. Bernard, J. Richardson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Reporting of pain that does not interfere with life is common in the older population but little is known about people with such long-term non-interfering pain.

Objectives: To assess whether non-interfering pain can be a long-term state, and to compare this group with those who continuously report no pain, and with those with chronic pain that interferes with life.

Methods: This was a prospective general population cohort study set within the North Staffordshire Osteoarthritis Project (NorStOP). People aged 50 plus were sent baseline, 3-year and 6-year questionnaires. Those who reported the same pain status (no pain, non-interfering pain, interfering pain) at each time point were compared on pain intensity, widespread pain and medication, and on sociodemographic and co-morbid characteristics at 6 years.

Results: Forty percent of responders reported the same pain status at each time point; 12% reported long-term non-interfering pain. Fifty-nine percent of those with non-interfering pain reported at least one site of high pain intensity, 33% reported widespread pain, and 90% had used pain medication in the past 4 weeks. This group was similar to the no-pain group but distinct on sociodemographic and co-morbid measures from those with pain that interfered.

Conclusions: Long-term non-interfering pain is common, but despite often suffering from high pain intensity and widespread pain, those within this group seem to be able to control their pain without allowing it to affect their everyday lives. Future work is needed to assess how people with long-term pain ensure it does not cause interference with life.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1185-1194
Number of pages10
JournalEuropean Journal of Pain
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2012


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