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In pain and on the street

July 25 2018
More than half of homeless people struggle with chronic pain

More than half of homeless people struggle with chronic pain.

That’s damaging for mental health and can make it hard to live a fulfilled life. With the right support, physical pain can be managed.

Keep active
Regular stretching and exercise can decrease pain and discomfort.

Pace yourself
Only do exercise at a level that is comfortable to you. Over time you can work at raising your limits.

Learn to relax and breathe
Relaxation and breathing techniques can help with tense muscles and stress. Take time to sit and focus on your breathing.

See a medical professional
There are many ways that pain can be managed. Get access to this through your GP.

Groundswell’s new Out of Pain research finds that homeless people are four times more likely to be suffering from chronic pain than the general population. In the study, which was led by peer researchers, Groundswell spoke to over 260 people about their experiences and health issues.

Over a quarter of people we spoke to said chronic pain had been affecting them for more than 10 years. Conditions such as sciatica, arthritis, migraines and chronic back pain were common, and for most conditions the rates were far higher than the general population, despite the people we spoke to being on average significantly younger.

• 39% of people said that pain had contributed to them becoming homeless
• 67% said pain made it difficult for them to hold down a job
• 50% said pain had caused trouble in their relationships
• 30% said that pain had contributed to why they had first used drugs

Feelings of shame can be frequent if you’re homeless and this, combined with problems talking about your pain, can make it difficult to seek help. However, given the high prevalence of chronic pain among others who are experiencing homelessness, you are not alone. Although this doesn’t lessen your own experience of pain, we hope knowing this enables you to seek and receive the right support.

Groundswell is campaigning to increase awareness of chronic pain in order to secure better access to treatment for people experiencing homelessness and living with chronic pain.

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