We are all living longer, but for many that means suffering chronic pain for longer too. Dr Sarah Goldingay explores new and groundbreaking research into relieving chronic pain.
Unlike acute pain - when we stub our toe or stand too close to a fire - chronic pain doesn't go away. Conventional medicine cannot cure chronic pain but can only give limited relief to the situation.
With longer life expectancies, it's estimated the NHS will need an additional £5 billion by 2018 to deal with chronic conditions. So a new approach is needed.
Dr Sarah Goldingay from the University of Exeter investigates these new approaches to dealing with chronic pain, which go well beyond traditional medicine. She explores how some researchers are considering the problem in a more holistic and radical way by looking at mind, body and spirit combined. She also investigates how our social interactions can dictate the ways we live with chronic pain.
Dr Goldingay speaks to world experts like Dr Miguel Farias, a neuro-psychologist who's innovative work has shown a link between belief and pain, and Dr Jen Tarr who offers insights into the importance of community on pain management. She also visits Lourdes to discover if the spiritual can offer relief from chronic pain.
Produced by Mark Sharman
A TBI production for BBC Radio 4.