Over half of Brits suffer daily pain from physical condition – but keep it quiet

Over half of Brits (52%) experience daily pain from conditions such as back pain, asthma, or Irritable Bowel Syndrome – but choose not to tell others what they are going through, a study has found.

A poll of 2,000 adults found that those who suffer from physical ailments feel unhappy (28%), frustrated (42%), and weary (45%) every day.

Three in ten can't go on a long journey without feeling in pain, and 35% struggle to exercise – while even sitting on the floor is a difficult task for 24%.

Arthritis, diabetes, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and peri-menopause are other conditions that those polled suffer in silence with.

But 65% have only shared the details of their condition with a select, trusted few – and one in ten choose to go through it alone, not telling a single soul.

The top reasons for keeping it to themselves include simply not wanting to talk about it with others (56%) – and fear of being judged (32%).

One in three (34%) don't want to be seen as old, and 41% don't want others to render them as incapable of doing everyday things.

But 45% just want to try and forget about their affliction as much as possible.

A spokesman for hygiene and health company Essity, which commissioned the study alongside a taboo-busting video series, said: “More than half the nation is currently suffering with a diagnosed condition, which affects them on a daily basis.

“That figure is really incredible, and just highlights how important it is to get everyone talking about what they are going through.

“Suffering in silence is not a great remedy for pain – it doesn’t make it easier to manage, and doesn’t make it go away.

“While there are practical solutions which make living with a painful condition easier, the first step is having the confidence to talk about it.

“We hope our new video series – Studio Taboo – will help encourage more Brits to speak up about their health and wellbeing, and see that there are millions of others just like them.”

The study, carried out via OnePoll, found those with physical conditions endure an average of three nights of broken sleep every week, and 44% experience some sort of discomfort daily.

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For 62%, coping with constant pain has directly affected their mental health and wellbeing – but 86% often find themselves saying they are fine, even when they are not.

Despite this, 38% of those who refuse to talk to others about what they are going through are adamant they do not want to be treated differently.

The top ways sufferers mask what they are going through include staying indoors as much as possible (14%), turning down social invitations (13%), and avoiding going outdoors in the heat (11%).

Sadly, of those with a condition, 32% are not in employment – with 23% citing their condition as the key reason.

For those in the workplace, just 30% said every member of their team is aware of their physical ailment.

And of the workers who have refrained from divulging all to the boss, half feel it isn’t their business, while 41% don’t feel comfortable sharing.

However, 7% worry they’d be left out of important meetings, and 6% don’t think they’d be consulted for key decisions.

But 79% of those with a condition choose to look on the bright side of life – often acknowledging “things could be worse”.

Essity’s spokesman added: “Things could be worse, but they could also be better – if only people were prepared to drop the stiff upper lip and turn to others for help.

“Getting the right people around you to listen, the correct diagnosis for what is wrong, and the right products or medication to treat the problem, can go a long way to make things more bearable.”


  1. Back pain
  2. Arthritis (rheumatoid, osteo, or psoriatic)
  3. Asthma
  4. Irritable Bowel Syndrome/Crohn's/Ulcerative Colitis
  5. Diabetes
  6. Skin wounds/conditions – including things like eczema or psoriasis
  7. Hearing impairment
  8. Orthopaedic injuries
  9. Peri-menopause
  10. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
  11. Visual impairment
  12. Incontinence
  13. Fibromyalgia
  14. Long Covid
  15. Cancer
  16. Severe period pain
  17. Frozen shoulder (adhesive capsulitis)
  18. Tendinitis
  19. Multiple sclerosis
  20. Chronic Venous Disease


  1. Stay indoors
  2. Turn down social invitations
  3. Stay indoors when hot
  4. Avoid posting photos on social media
  5. Wear loose/lots of clothing
  6. Avoid the gym
  7. Avoid using public transport
  8. Take longer breaks in the toilet at work
  9. Work from home
  10. Avoid online dating
  11. Avoid swimming/spas
  12. Have long hair
  13. Wear incontinence pads/pants, or absorbent underwear
  14. Wear sunglasses
  15. Wear wound dressing products
  16. Avoid beach holidays
  17. Avoid events where you have to dress up
  18. Avoid going to the hairdressers
  19. Keep your camera off on remote video calls
  20. Wear a face mask
  21. Wear hats
  22. Wear gloves
  23. Wear compression garments
  24. Always edit photos before posting on social media
  25. Avoid using the phone

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