1 in 5 Americans Reports Chronic Pain
Nearly one American in five is suffering from chronic pain, according to a USA Today survey.
A new USA TODAY/ABC News/Stanford University Medical Center poll indicates that 19% of American adults Ã¢€” almost 1 in 5 Ã¢€” say they suffer from chronic pain; 44% have acute, or short-term, pain. Half of the 1,204 respondents cite the source of their discomfort as a medical injury or condition such as joint pain, heart disease or cancer. (The poll’s margin of error is plus or minus 3 percentage points.)
“The problem is absolutely enormous,” says Russell Portenoy, chairman of pain medicine at New York’s Beth Israel Medical Center. “It rivals every serious public-health issue, whether you’re talking about heart disease, cancer, obesity or anything else.”
Still, the burden of pain will grow as the population ages. More than half of patients reporting chronic pain were older than 55.
A study of pain’s effect on worker productivity reported in The Journal of the American Medical Association in November 2003 calculated the cost in the USA at more than $62 billion a year from reduced performance alone. Add in the cost of treatment and lost workdays and the total climbs to an estimated $100 billion, according to the American Pain Foundation.
The story goes on to discuss how ineffective our medical system is at treating pain, which is described as a “stepchild of the medical profession.”
The ABC version of the story paints the picture a bit differently:
More than half of Americans live with chronic or recurrent pain, with broad numbers saying it interferes with their activities, mood and enjoyment of life Ã¢€” sparking a vast search for relief, from medication to bed rest, yoga or the palliative power of prayer.
An exclusive survey by ABC News, USA Today and the Stanford University Medical Center finds that, excluding minor annoyances, just under half of adults have experienced pain in the last two weeks, and nearly four in 10 do so on a regular basis.
Six in 10 Americans rate their last experience with pain as moderate or worse, and for two in 10 Ã¢€” about 40 million individuals Ã¢€” it was severe. Nineteen percent suffer chronic pain, meaning ongoing pain that’s lasted three months or more. An additional 34 percent report recurrent pain; the rest say their usual pain experience is acute, or short-term.
The story includes a chart that breaks down the survey results.