Pain is diagnosed as chronic or consistent pain when pain lasts longer than three months. Pain Australia states that:
"Left untreated, chronic pain can have a devastating impact on all aspects of sufferers' lives. About 65 percent of people with chronic pain report interference with daily activities including sleep, sex, work, exercise and routine self-care, which can have a negative effect on personal relationships, social interactions and lifestyle."
Dental practitioners and chronic pain
Dental practitioners have specific workplace challenges and demands that may contribute towards incidence of chronic pain.
One of the most common health problems for dental practitioners is back injury. Chronic lower back pain can lead to physical and emotional problems, decreased quality of life, impact on the ability to complete daily activities, and eventual disability.
Prevalence of pain in Australia
It is estimated that one in five people in Australia are affected by chronic pain.
In 2011 the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) reported that musculoskeletal conditions, such as back pain and problems, and other musculoskeletal disorders emerged as one of the top five causes of burden of disease in those aged between 25–44. In the same report, it was identified that for males aged between 45–64 years of age the most common burden of disease was coronary heart disease. For females the leading burden of disease was musculoskeletal disorders, which included ill-defined arthritis, chronic pain in joints, muscles and other soft tissue.