Pain hurts Singapore's economy

This article is more than 12 months old

The effects of head and body pain costs Singapore's economy $8.4 billion each year, according to a global study on the impact of pain on people's lives.

Last year, workers here took an average of three days of medical leave because of pain, while those who worked through their pain had a reduced productivity of 15 per cent.

The productivity loss due to absent workers was calculated by multiplying the average number of days of medical leave by the average daily salary and the employed adult population.

Many people chose not to do anything about their pain, while those who did self-diagnosed despite having low levels of knowledge about their medicine.

Those were some of the findings of the 2017 GSK Global Pain Index, which surveyed 19,000 adults aged 18 and above in 32 countries on acute, everyday pain.

The study, commissioned by GSK Consumer Healthcare, was conducted by global insights and consultancy firm Edelman Intelligence.

85 per cent of people surveyed here suffered from head and body pain, which was the same percentage globally. The most common areas of body pain experienced were in the back, lower back and neck, while muscle, joint and nerve pain were the top three types of pain suffered here.

Dr Wong Li Lian, a senior pharmacy lecturer, said while self-care is "empowerment" and a growing trend, consumers should also be aware that not everything can be self-medicated.

"What is important is for the consumer to realise that there are certain trigger factors and symptoms that warrant further referral to a doctor or further tests," said Dr Wong.

Nearly two-thirds of people here tend to self-diagnose their pain, while more than half suffer in silence. One in three ignores the pain - one of the highest proportions globally.