Painful Pandemic:

How a healthcare system under
strain impacts chronic pain patients


Pandemic has far-reaching and negative impacts on those with chronic pain

One of the many negative consequences of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has been its impact on already vulnerable patient populations, including those who suffer from chronic pain. 

Daily pain, delayed care, an inability to partake in or enjoy everyday activities, strains on mental health — these are just some of the consequences of living with chronic pain amid a global pandemic that continues to put tremendous stress on the American healthcare system. This insight is according to a new survey, Painful pandemic: How a healthcare system under strain impacts chronic pain patients, commissioned by Medtronic, a global leader in healthcare technology, and conducted by public opinion research firm The Harris Poll.


Report pain that worsened or
remains unimproved

Nearly all chronic back or leg pain sufferers say pain has negatively impacted their life.*


Say they can “never get a good night’s sleep.”


Find chronic pain makes it difficult to enjoy spending time with their family.


Experience negative
effects on their sense
of mobility/function.



Few are aware of the treatment options available to them.*


Want to better understand the available treatment options.


Are interested in trying spinal cord stimulation (SCS).


Say they are not familiar
with SCS

A woman in front of a window types on a tablet

Harris Poll report

To understand the full effect of chronic pain in America and how the COVID-19 pandemic has delayed treatment options, download the report.

A stark reality for chronic pain sufferers

Most people living with chronic back or leg pain reported a significant impact on their quality of life.
These challenges have only been worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting delays in treatment.
Review the survey highlights below.

Discover potential solutions

Less than half of chronic pain sufferers have seen a pain specialist and 90% wish there were more treatment options available to help manage their pain. Despite a multi-decade history of treating patients with chronic pain, targeted drug delivery (TDD) and spinal cord stimulation (SCS) aren't well-known treatments among most patients.

TDD, which delivers medication directly to the spine, and SCS, which disrupts pain signals traveling between the spinal cord and the brain, are effective treatment options for managing chronic pain.1–4 However, only 2% of surveyed patients have already tried the treatments, even though a majority are interested in trying TDD and/or SCS to help relieve their pain. Not every patient is a candidate for these treatments, and these decisions should be made in consultation with a doctor.

Learn about
targeted drug delivery

Learn about
spinal cord stimulation


Medtronic data on file.

About the survey

This survey was conducted online within the United States by The Harris Poll on behalf of Medtronic among 810 U.S. adults ages 18+ who currently experience chronic back and/or leg pain. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.


Hamza M, Doleys D, Wells M, et al. Prospective study of 3-year follow-up of low-dose intrathecal opioids in the management of chronic nonmalignant pain. Pain Med. 2012;13:1304-1313.


Deer T, Chapple I, Classen A, et al. Intrathecal drug delivery for treatment of chronic low back pain: report from the National Outcomes Registry for low back pain. Pain Med. 2004;5:6–13.


Kumar K, Taylor RS, Jacques L, et al. The effects of spinal cord stimulation in neuropathic pain are sustained: a 24-month follow-up of the prospective randomized controlled multicenter trial of the effectiveness of spinal cord stimulation. Neurosurgery2008;63(4):762-770. Discussion: 770.


Kemler MA, de Vet HC, Barendse GA, van den Wildenberg FA, van Kleef M. Effect of spinal cord stimulation for chronic complex regional pain syndrome type 1: five-year final follow-up of patients in a randomized controlled trial. J Neurosurg2008;108(2):292-298.