Global Pain Index
Health Lifestyle

New research shows how body pain impacts our lives

New research shows that 97 percent of Australians suffer from body aches.

I have a persistent sore neck and shoulder, mainly my left however it can move from one side to the other. I work full-time as a graphic designer which means I sit at a computer most of the day. My neck and shoulder issues are more than likely caused by sitting or slouching at my desk. Body aches and pain will give me trouble most days and it seems I’m not alone when it comes to suffering, with Australia topping the list in pain prevalence in the recent Global Pain Index (GPI).

The Global Pain Index is a first-of-its-kind study on the attitudes of body pain with 7,000 adults surveyed across four continents.

I found the results quite amazing but not really surprising showing 97 percent of Australians suffer from body aches, with a massive two thirds (68%) experiencing it at least weekly, higher than the other 13 countries included in the survey.

At least 88% of the world’s population suffer from pain. Most interestingly the study finds the ripple effect of body pain is widespread and people from all participating countries feel that pain impacts most aspects of their daily lives. The GPI findings also demonstrate a clear correlation between experiencing pain and their well-being.

Body pain

Overall 46% of Australians said they feel frustrated because of their body pain.

We live busy lives. I have three kids in primary school and needless to say life can be pretty hectic (and sometimes overwhelming) in our house. My husband and I have full time jobs (other than the full-time job of parenting and running a house which is a full-time job in itself!!). Life is so busy I sometimes feel that you just have to ‘soldier on’ – pain and all.


Tom Williams

GPI Ambassador and TV Personality Tom Williams who has two young children knows all about the busy life of a parent and the impact of pain on parenting.


Findings show pain impacts our social life, love life, performance at work and ability to parent.

Global Pain Index


Despite nearly two thirds (62%) of Australians saying that body pain decreases their quality of life, few do anything about it. Seventy percent of Australians accept pain as part of life and nearly two thirds of us (60%) simply ignore it.

According to GSK Consumer Healthcare Medical Affairs Director, Dr. Amar Inamdar, body pain has both a physical and mental impact on people’s everyday lives.

“Many Australians have a reduced quality of life because of body aches, like back pain, neck aches and sore muscles,” Dr. Inamdar said.

“The study shows that people are annoyed, frustrated and unhappy because of pain which effects their relationships, performance at work and how they parent.


The Global Pain Index finds six in ten Australians (60%) have trouble enjoying time with their family when they experience pain.

Two thirds (67%) of parents believe they would be doing a better job if it wasn’t for body pain. More than half (52%) have difficulty picking their children up, (47%) feel they don’t spend as much time with their children as they like to, and (39%) get easily ‘annoyed’ with their children because of their pain.

Global Pain Index

The top five things Australian parents with body pain feel guilty about when it comes to the impact of their own body pain on family are:

  1. Having trouble enjoying time with their family (60%)
  2. Difficulty picking up their children (52%)
  3. Not spending as much time with their children (47%)
  4. Having a lack of patience caused by being in pain (44%)
  5. Getting ‘annoyed’ with their children (39%)

Pharmacist, John Bell says “Most people would agree parenting is both fun and demanding and tends to involve lots of energy and patience.  Having to deal with daily aches and pains makes every day seem harder.

There are a few things I try and do to keep the pain away. I’m a big believer in ‘me time’ but alas it’s very rare. I also try to get a massage for my neck and shoulders when I can and at work I have a few things I do throughout the day including:

  • doing neck and shoulder stretches
  • getting up for walk a few times a day (even if it’s just to the photocopier and back)
  • drinking lots of water (I have a re-fillable bottle at my desk)

Treatable or preventable pain such as back ache, shoulder pain and knee pain has a significant impact on people’s lives. One of the most common queries Pharmacist John Bell gets is people looking for ways to manage their pain. Here are John’s top tips:

1. If you’re in pain, don’t suffer in silence

Talk to your doctor or pharmacist; they can help identify the cause of your pain and the best treatment options. Body aches and pains can often be managed effectively with simple therapies.

2. Understand your medicines

Appropriate use of medicines can help relieve joint and muscular pain and inflammation. Depending on the cause of your pain and the severity of your symptoms, some medicines (like paracetamol) might need to be taken routinely; others (such as the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines) just now and again. Topical rubs or cold packs can also help.

3. Keep moving

Whilst rest is important, exercise is even more so. Regular exercise increases mobility and flexibility, it strengthens muscles, bones and ligaments, and it actually reduces pain and stiffness. It will improve your mood too.

4. Choose an exercise you enjoy

If you don’t already exercise, start slowly to begin and choose something you’ll enjoy doing on a regular basis. It might just be walking, swimming or gentle aquarobics (warm water exercise is especially helpful), cycling, dancing, yoga, pilates or tai chi.

5. Control your weight

Being overweight doesn’t cause body pain; but it sure does make it harder to manage. Limit foods high in fat, sugar or salt. Keeping to a healthy weight will limit the stress and strain on those weight bearing joints.

6. Make good use of qualified health professionals

Treatments for body pain will vary according to your specific symptoms. Your doctor, pharmacist, physiotherapist and podiatrist can all give you good evidence-based information and tailor-make a management program. Make sure you get their advice before self-treating.


Love Mummahh

About the Global Pain Index (GPI)

The GPI is a global study by GSK Consumer Healthcare, with the first edition completed on behalf of Voltaren®. It was conducted by global market research firm Edelman Berland across four continents and 14 countries (Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Poland, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Sweden, UK and the USA). Fieldwork took place from November 2014 through January 2015 among 7,000 respondents adults aged 18+, including 500 from Australia. Visit for more information.

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