by Rachel Stearn, Appletree Clinic
“Too many people are living with pain, and it’s not even being talked about!”
That’s the view of Rachel Stearn, who’s opened a spinal clinic in Stonegrave near Helmsley, targeting people with chronic back and neck pain. “There’s a lot in the news at the moment about hospital waiting lists being worse than ever, but behind those 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 have chronic pain, meaning they’ve suffered for 3 months or more, according to a survey by Public Health England. Approximately 5.5 million people have high-impact chronic pain and struggle to take part in daily activities, and 10 million people have low-impact chronic pain. This mostly affects necks, shoulders, backs and arms.
“While surgery certainly isn’t the solution for everyone, far too many people just put up with their pain,” said Rachel. “I’ve seen this first hand as, 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 but I wanted to gain deeper knowledge of how patients are dealt with when they first report their symptoms. What struck me was just how many people are suffering with long-term pain conditions, living with mobility problems and taking regular painkillers. It seems the system just isn’t geared up to solve chronic problems, and 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 finding lasting relief. For some people the treatment 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.”