Over half of US adults report suffering from some degree of pain

It is estimated that roughly 126 million adults in the U.S. regularly experience varying levels of pain, according to recently published data in the Journal of Pain.

“The number of people who suffer from severe and lasting pain is striking,” Josephine P. Briggs, MD, Director of the NIH’s National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, said in a press release. “This analysis adds valuable new scope to our understanding of pain and could inform the National Pain Strategy in our areas of population research and disparities. It may help shape future research, development, and targeting of effective pain interventions, including complementary health approaches.” 

Nahin analyzed data from the 2012 National Health Interview Survey to assess the prevalence of pain experienced by adults within the 3 months prior to the study. Pain was divided into one of five categories, based on persistence and severity; no pain and categories 1 (low) to 4 (high).  

Study results estimated that within the 3 months prior to the study period, 126.1 million adults reported some degree of pain.

Asian adults were least likely to report experiencing pain, whereas women, older adults, and non-Hispanics were most likely to experience pain. 

Among pain sufferers, 25.3 million individuals experienced chronic pain daily, and 23.4 million experiencing a lot of pain.

Approximately 11.3% and 6.4% of adults were classified having pain in categories 3 or 4, respectively. Individuals in these categories were more likely to have a disability, utilize health care service more frequently and have poorer health statuses, compared with individuals with lower levels of pain. 

“This report begins to answer calls for better national data on the nature and extent of the pain problem. The experience of pain is subjective. It’s not surprising then that data show varied responses to pain even in those with similar levels of pain. Continuing analyses of these data may help identify subpopulations that would benefit from additional pain treatment options,” Richard L. Nahin, PhD, MPH, of the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, said in a press release. – by Casey Hower

Disclosure: Nahin reports no relevant financial disclosures.

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