More than a third of chronic pain sufferers waited over a year for diagnosis, with one in three fearing their condition would jeopardise their jobs.
A report found 42% have endured pain for more than five years, with almost a quarter being accused of using it to avoid work.
The Pain Proposal study branded the problem a silent epidemic and called for chronic pain to be treated with the same seriousness as any other disease.
Dr Liam Conroy, president of the Irish Pain Society and co-author of the report, said the condition is a costly burden both in Ireland and in Europe.
"Throughout the continent there are issues about the recognition of chronic pain as a defined medical condition," Dr Conroy said.
"Patients who suffer from chronic pain face unnecessary delays in the diagnosis and treatment of their condition. This has the effect of increasing not only healthcare costs, but also costs to the social welfare systems, insurance companies and employers."
The survey was carried out in August and September among 2,019 people from 15 European countries. In Ireland opinions were sought from 101 people with chronic pain and a number of primary care physicians.
The study was developed in collaboration with the Irish Pain Society, Chronic Pain Ireland and Arthritis Ireland.
Gina Plunkett, chair of Chronic Pain Ireland, said the perception that people with the condition cannot work or do not want to work is wrong.
"Many pain sufferers are productive, talented and committed employees with the same aspirations and ambitions as people without chronic pain and shouldn't be limited by their condition," Ms Plunkett said. "Yet the system is failing many people living with pain - preventing them from playing their full part in the nation's workforce."