May 6, 2016

To help people explain their pain and receive an accurate diagnosis and treatment, the ‘mypainfeelslike…’ campaign has developed the ‘mypainfeelslike…’ pain questionnaire – available at The campaign has also developed a series of images with American-based artist David Schwen, that visually interpret pain symptoms such as burning, stabbing and crawling under the skin.

In addition, the Pathways through Pain multimedia guide is now available on or and includes practical information to help people manage their pain, including:

·         Video with Advanced Nurse Practitioner in Pain Management and President-elect of the Irish Pain Society, Joanne O’Brien on manging chronic pain

·         Video with Susan Murphy, Clinical Physiotherapist, University Hospital Waterford of stretching and exercises for back pain

·         Mindfulness podcast with Clinical Psychologist, Orla Spencer

·         Pain management rehabilitation conversation podcast with a patient who

attended the program in Tallaght Hospital in 2016 and Orla Spencer

Research finds that over a quarter of pain sufferers delay discussing it with their doctor (1)

The ‘mypainfeelslike…” campaign launched by Ivan Yates aims to support patients when talking with healthcare professionals

Research announced today by the ‘mypainfeelslike…’ campaign found that over half of people living with chronic pain in Ireland feel frustrated when trying to describe their pain. (1) This contributes to 26 percent delaying discussing their pain with their doctor. (1) The new ‘mypainfeelslike…’ questionnaire – available at – has been developed as a tool to enable communication between patients and healthcare professionals. The campaign is a collaboration between Grünenthal Pharma Ltd and Chronic Pain Ireland and supported by Multiple Sclerosis Ireland and The Parkinson’s Association of Ireland.

 The impact of not adequately managing pain manifests itself in many ways with loss of work and the ability to exercise or socialise being significantly diminished. 73 percent of respondents say their pain has a negative impact on their ability to exercise, 45 percent say that it affects their social life and nearly half missing up to a week of work in the last year. (1) To help people explain their pain and receive an accurate diagnosis and treatment, the ‘mypainfeelslike…’ campaign has also developed a series of images, with artist David Schwen, that visually interpret pain symptoms such as, burning, stabbing and crawling under the skin. These images will be exhibited around Dublin and in GP surgeries across the country.

“Persistent pain is now considered to be a disease entity in its own right. It is associated with a range of changes in nerve function, mood, cognition and social function. Early assessment is essential in devising a strategy to help chronic pain sufferers” said Dr Paul Murphy, Pain Consultant at St Vincent’s Hospital, Dublin. “Currently many chronic pain patients do not talk about their pain and find it difficult to describe their symptoms, which has a negative impact on their care. The ‘mypainfeelslike...’ questionnaire will help patients describe their pain when talking to their doctors, which will ultimately improve their quality of care”.

“My lower back pain started in 2003 while driving around the country. The pain started off as localised, a kind of stabbing feeling in my lower back. Soon it spread down my leg, which led to me using crutches as I was unable to walk”, says broadcaster Ivan Yates at the launch of “I was in bad way and it kept deteriorating over the years. In 2011 I underwent spinal fusion surgery, unfortunately this hasn’t worked as I still have pain every day. But you learn to live with it. Sitting is a big aggravator so I have no shame in standing, kneeling or lying on the floor while on the radio, at events or wherever – it has to be done! I encourage anyone out there suffering from pain to log on to to get more information and take the pain questionnaire to help them describe their pain”.

“My pain feels often like a long needle stabbing into my lower back” explains Niamh Nestor, 39-year-old veterinary student advisor in UCD. “I have experienced constant lower back pain since about 2011 due to a disc problem. I visited doctors who told me things like I was getting old and everyone has pain. Eventually my mother took me to our family GP who helped me get a diagnosis and the specialist care that I need to manage my pain. My pain impacts everything – if I can sneeze without pain it’s a good day – but thankfully I completed my PhD in sociolinguistics and now work full-time. I just hope one day I can live without pain”.

It is estimated that approximately 1.65 million people in Ireland have chronic pain (2), with 21 percent living with pain for 10 years or more (1). Chronic pain is pain or discomfort that troubles a person all of the time or on and off for more than three months. (3)  It can be caused by a condition (e.g. arthritis, fibromyalgia), an isolated event (e.g. injury, infection), or a non-traceable occurrence.4 While acute pain is short term and it resolves with healing of the underlying injury, chronic pain is often described as persistent pain that disrupts sleep and normal living and serves no protective function and degrades health and functional capability. (5) Neuropathic or nerve pain is caused by damage to or dysfunction of the nerves, spinal cord, or brain. Typical effects are felt as a burning or tingling type of pain. (6)

“Living with chronic or nerve pain affects people’s well-being, their ability to be independent, their productivity and relationships, which can lead to feelings of depression” commented John Lindsay, Chairperson, Chronic Pain Ireland. “The ‘mypainfeelslike…’ campaign will help raise awareness of the impact of chronic pain and give people living with this disease the tools to re-evaluate their pain management plans”.

About the ‘mypainfeelslike…’ Campaign

This national campaign aims to raise awareness of pain and support patients when communicating with healthcare professionals. For more information go to

The initiative has been developed in collaboration with Grünenthal – a company constantly searching for innovative ways to better treat patients with pain and to support communication between patients and physicians.

For further reading, pick up a copy of Pain-free Life, My Journey to Wellness by Irish broadcaster and Chronic Pain Ireland board member, Andrea Hayes


1 Survey by Empathy Research on behalf of Grunenthal based on 501 Irish sufferers of chronic pain aged 18+ in January 2016.

2 Raftery et al. Chronic pain in the Republic of Ireland––Community prevalence, psychosocial profile and predictors of pain-related disability: results from the Prevalence, Impact and Cost of Chronic Pain (PRIME) study, part 1. Pain.2011;152:1096–1103.

3 Bridges S. (2012) Health Survey for England 2011: Chronic pain (Chapter 9, pp291–323). Health and Social Care Information Centre. Available at: (last accessed February 2016).

4 Chronic Pain Policy Coalition. The Hidden Suffering of Chronic Pain. Available at… (Last accessed, February 2016)

5 Berry, P. Pain: Understanding of Assessment, Management and Treatments. American Pain Society.

6 Merck Manuals. 2011 Types of Pain. Neuropathic Pain.  

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