One-third of all Canadians report taking sick days, reducing productivity, losing income or their jobs because of pain they experienced in the last three months, according to an Angus Reid national survey conducted for the Canadian Pain Society.
"Pain is costing Canada big-time in dollars," says Dr. Mary Lynch, the president of the Canadian Pain Society.
Individually, pain costs afflicted people approximately $14,744 each year, according to a National Health Population survey. Estimates for the direct health-care costs associated with pain have hit $6 billion per year and it's expected to hit $10 billion per year by 2025, says the Canadian Pain Society.
Pain afflicted young people more than any other age group surveyed, with 23 per cent of those between 18 and 34 years old reported missing days of work due to pain. Another one in five said they were less productive because of pain and 15 per cent said they lost income thanks to their afflictions -significantly higher than the national average of 11 per cent.
"It is happening on a grand scale in a youthful population," said Lynch. "This is prime workforce age group."
Sandra Gartz of Kitchener, Ont., was in those prime working years when pain robbed her of her nursing job. She was 30 years old in 1985 when a workplace injury took her off the job for 20 weeks. Still, she fought through the pain of fibromyalgia and went back to work despite chronic affliction.
"It's tiring fighting pain all day and then working, too,"she said. "It's like you have two full-time jobs, pain is a full-time job."
But in 1995, she had another fall and it took her out for good.
"I was suicidal,"she said.
All of a sudden, her family, which had grown to include two small children, had no money -not for food, the mortgage payment or the car payment. The family applied for welfare, but, luckily, Gartz's husband found a job by the time the first cheque came in. The family's income levels have never fully recovered though, Gartz said.
"If I was working, I'd be getting $60,000 or $70,000 a year," she said. "I get $36,000 a year between my two pensions."
The survey was conducted from March 4 to 7 among 1,108 randomly selected Canadian adults who are Angus Reid Forum panellists. The margin of error was 2.9 percentage points 19 times out of 20 and has been statistically weighted according to census data.