Background: Although chronic pain is a common health problem, epidemiological data are rare. The aim of this study is to present information on chronic, non-malignant pain in Germany.
Methods: In order to identify relevant studies on chronic pain (> 3 months) a total of 7 databases were searched in the timeframe from 1995 to 2009. Representative, recent, comprehensive and valid studies were selected.
Results: The prevalence of chronic pain in Germany is estimated to be 17% and varies according to the underlying cause of the disease. Neck, shoulder and back pain are the most common forms. Chronic pain has a direct impact on quality of life (QoL), days off work and costs. A variety of drugs and non-drug treatments are used. However, treatment is often inadequate with 13-51% of the patients receiving insufficient pain therapy.
Conclusions: Chronic pain is a common problem which influences the QoL of patients resulting in high costs for the health system. Treatment is often inadequate. More research is needed to close knowledge gaps. The transfer of research results into clinical practice should be improved.