This review aims to bring together current evidence on the impact of chronic pain in terms of its economic costs, cost to healthcare services and benefit agencies, and quality of life, and to discuss the implications of this for government policies. Quantifying the burden and cost of pain is challenging due to its multi-factorial nature and wide reaching effects. Nonetheless, there is a consensus that chronic pain has a significant impact on levels of resources across society and on quality of life. Pain is a complex bio-psychosocial experience and chronic pain is a consequence, in part, of adopting a narrow biomedical treatment approach to a problem which requires a multi-disciplinary approach to address the psychosocial, behavioural and biomedical aspects of pain. Although effective pain management interventions and programmes exist. provision of these services is inconsistent, and chronic pain is not given the priority it requires in view of the extent of its burden on individuals and society. Current relevant government policies in UK are discussed to highlight the need to prioritise pain and adopt a whole-systems approach to its management if governments are to successfully reduce its cost and burden.