Fifty to Sixty-Five Million Have Chronic Pain in America

One in four American adults has pain for at least one day each month. Chronic pain affects one third of those in their twenties, thirties and forties. It affects three-fifths of those over 65.

  • In a 2004 study 25% of American adults reported low back pain in the last three months. About 15% of adults reported severe headache in the past three months. One-third of those over 18 and half of those over 65 had joint pain in the past month.
  • A history of low back pain makes it five times more likely that a person will report psychological distress.
  • Between 1988 and 1994, 3.2% of Americans needed narcotics for pain. By 2002, 4.2% were using narcotics.
  • Pain is the number one cause of adult disability in the United States.
  • At least one out of six people live with chronic pain.
  • A 2003 study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association put the cost of pain at $61.2 billion per year.
  • Chronic pain is now considered an “epidemic.”

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Last modified: 07/27/08