Let’s Talk About Pain: 19 Percent of Americans Deal With Daily Chronic Pain

Survey outlines landscape of pain from across the country

Chronic pain affects a large part of the country

New research shows that nearly one in five Americans live with chronic pain on a daily basis.

A new survey published in the October issue of the Journal of Pain found that almost one out of five Americans struggle with “significant and debilitating” chronic pain on a daily basis. The poll, which included about 35,000 American households, delivers a scary but unsurprising message: if you’re living with pain in the U.S., you’re not alone.

“Going forward, it will be important to track changes in rates of persistent pain within the U.S., and compare these rates to other countries with different health care systems,” said Jae Kennedy, study author and professor of health policy and administration at Washington State University in Spokane.

For the survey, the authors analyzed data from a 2010 National Center for Health Statistics survey. Only those with continuous pain for three months were considered for inclusion. Researchers found that 19 percent of adults experience some form of daily chronic pain, and more than two-thirds of those said their pain was “constantly present.” Likewise, more than half said their pain was “unbearable and excruciating” at times.

While physically debilitating chronic pain is an issue in and of itself, the new survey also shed light on another issue: psychic pain.

“Being in pain is depressing,” said Kennedy. “Being in pain all the time is tiring. Being in pain all the time is anxiety-provoking. So it’s plausible that pain is triggering other kinds of more psychological distress.”

Of course, now the question remains: with so many Americans struggling with chronic pain, what is the best way to treat it?

Unfortunately, not all chronic pain can be treated the same way, due to the fact that it can come from many different sources.

“If it was just one thing causing pain, we might have one treatment that would work for most people,” said Bob Twillman, director of policy and advocacy for the American Academy of Pain Management. “But, given that we have millions of people with dozens, or perhaps even hundreds of causes for their pain, we can’t use a cookie-cutter approach to treating pain.”

To read more about the new survey on chronic pain, click here: Almost 1 in 5 Americans Plagued by Constant Pain, Survey Suggests.

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