September 26, 2018
1 min read

CDC: 1 in 5 US adults have chronic pain

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Approximately 20% of adults in the United States have chronic pain, according to findings published in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

The release of the report coincides with Pain Awareness Month, which serves to raise awareness of the impact of pain, and the need to develop and implement safer, more effective pain interventions and alternatives to opioids for pain management is a crucial part in addressing the current opioid crisis, according to the authors.

“Chronic pain, one of the most common reasons adults seek medical care, has been linked to restrictions in mobility and daily activities, dependence on opioids, anxiety and depression and poor perceived health or reduced quality of life,” James Dahlhamer, PhD, from the National Center for Health Statistics at CDC, and colleagues wrote.

Current population-based estimates of chronic pain among adults in the United States are limited and vary widely, according to Dahlhamer and colleagues. To obtain more precise prevalence estimates of chronic pain and high-impact chronic pain, they analyzed data from the 2016 National Health Interview Survey, which asked questions regarding frequency and severity of pain.

The survey was administered to 33,028 adults aged 18 years or older. The response rate was 54.3%.

The researchers defined chronic pain as pain on most days or every day in the past 6 months and high-impact chronic pain as chronic pain that often limits daily activities of life on most days or every day during the past 6 months.

The survey revealed that in 2016, chronic pain was prevalent in 20.4% (n = 50 million) of adults in the United States and high-impact chronic pain was prevalent in 8% (n = 19.6 million) of adults. The prevalence of pain increased as age increased.

Women, older adults, previously but not currently employed adults, adults living in poverty, adults with public health insurance and rural residents reported higher prevalence rates of both chronic pain and high-impact chronic pain.

“These findings could be used to target pain management interventions,” Dahlhamer and colleagues wrote. – by Alaina Tedesco


Disclosures: Dahlhamer reports no relevant financial disclosures. Please see study for all other authors’ relevant financial disclosures.