Researchers at the National Institutes of Health are saying more than 25 million American adults reported having pain every day for the previous three months. That’s about 11.2% of the population. Researchers also said that more than 126 million-more than half the U.S. adults-reported experiencing some pain in the same period.
The Journal of Pain has published the analysis based on data from the 2012 National Health Interview Survey, an annual undertaking that asks thousands of Americans about their health- and illness-related experiences.
Pain seems to be worse in certain age groups. Older Americans, and were more likely to report having pain. Women-particularly white women-reported suffering more from pain. The report said the impact of gender on pain varies according to ethnicity and race.
For Grace, a Los Angeles based non-profit that focuses on pain issues in women, will hold its annual meeting in September. It encourages, according to founder Cynthia Toussaint, “the equal and ethical treatment of all women in pain.”
The NIH survey also indicated, not surprisingly that adults who suffer from higher levels of pain have more disabilities, have worse overall health and use more health care resources.
“The number of people who suffer from severe and lasting pain is striking,” said Josephine P. Briggs, director of the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, “This analysis adds valuable new scope to our understanding of pain… It may help shape future research, development and targeting of effective pain interventions, including complementary health approaches.”
This news-and for many in the pain community it’s hardly news—comes as people await the final National Pain Strategy document expected sometime this fall. It plans to review areas of pain care, including professional education and training, public education and communications, delivery and reimbursement, prevention of care and other factors.
Collecting data and better understanding the issue are keys to creating access to and delivery of better chronic pain care.
“This report begins to answer calls for better national data on the nature and extent of the pain problem,” Richard L. Nahin, Ph.D., M.P.H., lead epidemiologist for NCCIH and author of the analysis said. “The experience of pain is subjective. It’s not surprising then that the data show varied responses to pain even in those with similar levels of pain. Continuing analyses of these data may help identify subpopulations that would benefit from additional pain treatment options.”