Facts about pain:

It may not be discussed as often as pleasure. But pain, like pleasure, is one of our most universal human experiences. In fact, the Joint Commission recently named pain as the "fifth vital sign"-a condition to be evaluated alongside temperature, pulse, respiration and blood pressure. We have studied pain extensively, so that we can better help you manage it.

 Whether it's the dull throb of an overworked muscle or the grating stiffness of joint discomfort, pain affects millions of Americans on a daily basis. And too often, those suffering from pain feel that they have no choice but to live with its effects. Fortunately, most pain can be managed with treatment and therapy, facilitating better physical performance, reducing the severity of symptoms, improving the quality of life, and enabling your body to perform at the highest level possible.


Here Are Some Facts About Pain That You May Not Have Known

• 80 million Americans are "Weekend Warriors" who experience muscle aches and pains.

• 76 million Americans suffer from pain each day.

• 40 million Americans suffer pain from Arthritis.

• 26 million Americans between 20-64 experience frequent back pain.


The Burden of Pain on Every Day Life

• The annual cost of chronic pain in the United States, including healthcare expenses, lost income, and lost productivity, is estimated to be $100 billion. (2)

• More than half of all hospitalized patients experienced pain in the last days of their lives and although therapies are present to alleviate most pain for those dying of cancer, research shows that 50-75% of patients die in moderate to severe pain. (3)

• An estimated 20% of American adults (42 million people) report that pain or physical discomfort disrupts their sleep a few nights a week or more. (4)


Commonly-Reported Pain Conditions

• When asked about four common types of pain, respondents of a National Institute of Health Statistics survey indicated that low back pain was the most common (27%), followed by severe headache or migraine pain (15%), neck pain (15%) and facial ache or pain (4%). (1)

• Back pain is the leading cause of disability in Americans under 45 years old. More than 26 million Americans between the ages of 20-64 experience frequent back pain. (1)

• Adults with low back pain are often in worse physical and mental health than people who do not have low back pain: 28% of adults with low back pain report limited activity due to a chronic condition, as compared to 10% of adults who do not have low back pain. Also, adults reporting low back pain were three times as likely to be in fair or poor health and more than four times as likely to experience serious psychological distress as people without low back pain. (1)


Highlights from the National Center for Health Statistics Report: Health, United States, 2006, Special Feature on Pain (1)

• More than one-quarter of Americans (26%) age 20 years and over - or, an estimated 76.5 million Americans - report that they have had a problem with pain of any sort that persisted for more than 24 hours in duration. [NOTE: this number does not account for acute pain].

• Adults age 45-64 years were the most likely to report pain lasting more than 24 hours (30%). Twenty-five percent (25%) of young adults age 20-44 reported pain, and adults age 65 and over were the least likely to report pain (21%).


Key Findings from the 2006 Voices of Chronic Pain Survey (5)

A 2006 survey conducted for the American Pain Foundation and sponsored by Endo Pharmaceuticals evaluated the impact that chronic pain had on 303 chronic pain sufferers who sought care from their physician and were currently using an opioid to treat their pain.


Control Over Chronic Pain

• More than half of respondents (51%) felt they had little or no control over their pain.

• Six out of ten patients (60%) said they experience breakthrough pain one or more times daily, severely impacting their quality of life and overall well-being.


Impact on Quality of Life

• Almost two-thirds (59%) reported an impact on their overall enjoyment of life.

• More than three quarters of patients (77%) reported feeling depressed.

• 70% said they have trouble concentrating.

• 74% said their energy level is impacted by their pain.

• 86% reported an inability to sleep well.


Lost Productive Time and Cost Due to Common Pain Conditions in the United States Workforce (6)

Data from the American Productivity Audit, a computer assisted telephone survey of health and work, of 28,902 working adults between August, 2001 and July 2002, was used to estimate lost productive time due to headache, arthritis, back pain, and other musculoskeletal conditions expressed in hours per worker per week and calculated in US dollars.

• Over half (52.7%) of the workforce surveyed reported having headache, back pain, arthritis, or other musculoskeletal pain in the past two weeks, and 12.7% of all workforce lost productive time in a two-week period due to pain.

• Headache (5.4%) was the most common pain condition prompting lost productive time: followed by back pain (3.2%), arthritis pain (2%) and other musculoskeletal pain (2%).

• Overall, workers lost an average of 4.6 hours per week of productive time due to a pain condition.

• Other musculoskeletal pain (5.5 hours/week) and arthritis or back pain (5.2 hours/week) produced the largest amounts of lost productive time.

• Headache produced, on average, 3.5 hours of lost productive time per week.

• Age did not seem to attenuate the findings.

• Lost productive time from common painful conditions was estimated to be $61.2 billion per year, while 76.6% of lost productive time was explained by reduced work performance, not absenteeism.

• Back, shoulder, and neck pain cause 49% of all work absences.

• Musculoskeletal disorders - including pain in the neck, back, shoulder, and arms - rank as the number 1 cause of work absences lasting three days or longer, according to a study by The Work Foundation. This survey included all types of workers, not just heavy-lifting factory hands.



America Speaks: Pain in America (7)

2003 survey conducted by Peter D. Hart Research Associates as a nationwide survey for Research! America. The purpose of this study was to assess the view of Americans about pain in America. The survey's objectives included gauging Americans' perceptions of how pain sufferers and the medical community deal with the problems of chronic pain.


Dealing with Pain

• Among the major adjustments that chronic pain sufferers have made are such serious steps as taking disability leave from work (20%), changing jobs altogether (17%), getting help with activities of daily living (13%) and moving to a home that is easier to manage (13%).


A Visit to the Doctor

• Most pain sufferers (63%) have seen their family doctor for help.

• Forty percent made an appointment with a specialist, such as an orthopedist.

• Twenty Five percent have visited a chiropractor or a doctor that specializes in pain management (15%).

• While 43% of pain sufferers have been to only one type of doctor for their pain, a large proportion (38%) have consulted more than one practitioner in the medical community.

• Treatments for pain have yielded mixed results. Although 58% of those who took prescription medication say that doing so was very fairly effective for their pain, only 41% of those who took over-the-counter


The Pain Gap

• Seven in ten Americans feel that pain research and management should be one of the medical community's top few priorities (16%) or a high priority (55%)

• Almost six in 10 adults (57%) say they would be willing to pay one dollar more per week in taxes to increase federal funding for the scientific research into the causes and treatment of pain.



1) National Centers for Health Statistics, Chartbook on Trends in the Health of Americans 2006, Special Feature: Pain.  Available from: http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/hus/hus06.pdf.

2) National Institutes of Health, NIH guide: new directions in pain research: 1. Bethesda, MD: National Institutes of Health. 1998 Sept. 4. Available from: http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/pa-files/PA-98-102.html.

3) Source: A Controlled Trial to Improve Care for Seriously Ill Hospitalized Patients. Available from: http://jama.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/abstract/274/20/1591

4) National Sleep Foundation (http://www.sleepfoundation.org). Sleep in America poll. 2000.

5) 2006 Voices of Chronic Pain Survey. Available from: http://www.painfoundation.org/newsroom/reporter-resources/voices-survey-report.pdf

6) Results from the American Productivity Audit. Available from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14665809

7) Peter D. Hart Research Associates. Page 3. KEY FINDINGS. Americans in Pain. Much of America is hurting: the majority of adults (57%) in this country have ...


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