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Table 1 Characteristics of participants with chronic pain

From: Obstacles to returning to work with chronic pain: in-depth interviews with people who are off work due to chronic pain and employers

Study number Age range Gender Type/Cause/ Location of pain Duration of pain Work situation Site recruited from
PI01 35–40 Male Injury to neck while using rowing machine in gym leading to painful left shoulder and arm with little function (nerve damage)
Back pain
2 years Unemployed since injury due to pain as unable to do previous job (warehouse work) NHS Pain clinic via physiotherapy
PI02 65–70 Male Back injury at work – threw a pallet in anger about a colleague being bullied and his back went into spasm and now has pain from back down to toes and pins and needles – diagnosed with sciatic nerve compression Constant pain since 1992 (25 years) but had back problems before that Retired now – retired earlier than he would have liked due to back pain NHS Pain clinic via physiotherapy
PI03 30–35 Male Accident with machinery at work – caused back pain linked with hernia of spine at L5 and degeneration of discs 4 years Suspended from work due to number of episodes of sickness absence because of pain NHS Pain clinic via physiotherapy
PI04 60–65 Female Hip replacement in 2004 then in 2007 started getting spasms in left thigh from the groin down to the knee but nothing found on scans and X –rays
Back pain due to osteoarthritis - diagnosed with stenosis of spine & five bulging discs from base of spine to waist
10 years Off sick from work due to pain – waiting for meeting at work to discuss return NHS Pain clinic via physiotherapy and attended pain management programme
PI05 30–35 Female Lower back pain since age of 13 linked with childhood abuse – diagnosed with degenerative arthritis of coccyx, two bulging discs
Torn disc of spine two years ago – following severe coughing caused by respiratory infection
18 years Became self-employed due to back pain causing difficulties and sickness absence in previous job (residential care work) NHS Pain clinic via physiotherapy and attended pain management programme
PI06 35–40 Female Fell over and twisted ankle – fracture not diagnosed initially but diagnosed sometime after injury when already healed
Complex Regional Pain Syndrome diagnosed later
5 years Unable to continue with jobs due to pain so now unemployed and claiming benefits NHS Pain clinic via consultant physician
PI07 60–65 Male Pain in feet at night due to nerve damage secondary to diabetes
Pain in leg linked with fall – found two small metal pieces in leg (maybe as a result of previous motorbike accidents)
Pain in left arm coming from neck into shoulder
Since heart attack 2 years ago Unemployed.
Went onto Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) after heart attack as no longer able to do previous job (fork lift truck driver) and was recently moved from ESA to Job Seekers Allowance (JSA) following health assessment
Job Shop
PI08 55–60 Male Congenital disability that affected one side of body and wore a calliper as a child. Has had a number of operations on his affected foot to straighten it as used to walk on tiptoe. Has pain in both sides of his body and especially the foot that was operated on Since childhood Unemployed – recently moved from ESA to JSA following health assessment Job Shop
PI09 20–25 Female Pain (burning and stabbing pain) from knees downwards – worse at night and in the morning – cause unknown – nerve tests inconclusive
Morton’s Neuroma in feet cause pain
Pain linked with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)
Pain in legs - last year and a half
Pain in feet −1 year
Pain linked with CFS – 6 years.
Unemployed – on ESA but does not get any money as partner works more than 20 h NHS Pain Clinic via clinical psychologist in Multi-Disciplinary Team (MDT)
PI10 50–55 Male Fractured spine – internal fixation and has five degenerating vertebrae 13 years Unemployed – on benefits NHS Pain Clinic via consultant physician
PI11 50–55 Female Lower back pain linked with previous job Many years of intermittent back pain but more severe in last 6 months Unemployed – unable to do previous job due to pain Job Shop
PI12 45–50 Female Arm pain linked with tennis elbow 8 years Unemployed due to pain Job Shop
PI13 50–55 Male Slipped disc at bottom of lumbar spine – work related injury
Trapped nerve in left shoulder
Back pain – 7 years
Shoulder pain – 10 years
Unemployed due to difficulties in previous job linked with pain and disability NHS Pain clinic via physiotherapist
PI14 25–30 Female Knee pain – ligament damage exacerbated due to fall Couple of years ago Unemployed Job Shop
PI15 55–60 Female Osteoarthritis causing knee pain
One partial knee replacement
A few years
Partial knee replacement one year ago
Unemployed – made redundant five months previously when store where she worked closed down Job Shop