Chronic pain is an increasing burden on public health, and these chronic pain statistics have reflected this throughout the years.
To assess the global effects of chronic pain conditions, the causes of these diseases need to be examined in-depth, both individually and at a population level.
It is impossible to answer all the questions related to chronic pain, given the epidemiology and the heterogeneity of the diseases associated with it, as well as the challenges in determining the cause and effect of risk factors and the occurrence of chronic pain.
Due to its severe duration, chronic pain causes a lot of trouble for the patients and reduces their quality of life, which leads to stress and even worse health.
The facts we collect about chronic pain will help you better understand this condition’s importance and how to cope with it better.
The Top 10 Astonishing Chronic Pain Stats and Facts
- Black people are 22% less likely to obtain relief for their chronic pain
- 70% of individuals affected by chronic pain syndrome are women
- Smokers account for 50% of patients suffering from chronic pain
- 1 in 4 people suffering from chronic pain have a sleep disorder
- Arthritis affects over 350 million people globally
- 4.8% of US adults have high-impact chronic pain
- Chronic pain increases the risk of suicide
- The annual cost for patients with chronic low back pain is around $8,500
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy is an essential part of chronic pain treatment
- Curcumin is researched extensively for chronic pain management
Chronic Pain Statistics Worldwide
Chronic pain is a condition that affects millions of individuals globally. According to credible chronic pain facts for 2021, the first step towards treatment is to understand your pain and determine if your condition is acute or chronic.
Acute pain is a short time pain that disappears almost immediately after the causative agent is eliminated. Some causes of acute pain include surgery, burns or cuts, childbirth or labor, etc.
On the other hand, chronic pain will usually continue to disturb its victims even after the cause of the pain has been eliminated.
However, recent pain statistics inform us that it is also possible for someone to suffer from chronic pain even without prior injury or apparent damage to any part of the body.
Some causes of chronic pain include arthritis, cancer, migraine, back pain, etc. Additionally, chronic pain can lead to stress-induced physical conditions and emotional effects such as tensed muscles, lack of energy, anxiety, depression, etc.
Read on to discover the most recent chronic pain statistics for 2021.
1. Around 1.5 billion people suffer from chronic pain globally.
(BU School of Public Health)
How many people are affected by chronic pain?
It is estimated that about one in five people worldwide experience chronic pain during their lives, with prevalence increasing with age. The chronic pain definition relates to pain lasting for more than three months.
2. The prevalence of chronic pain in America is projected between 11–40%.
About 20.4% of Americans suffer from chronic pain, which accounts for more than 40 million US adults. This makes chronic pain a common health problem, according to the CDC and its chronic pain statistics.
3. Black people are 22% less likely to obtain relief for their chronic pain.
(Miller & Wagner) (Physician’s Weekly) (AJEM Journal)
Also, blacks are 40% less likely to receive medications for acute pain and 34% less likely to be prescribed opioids when compared to their white counterparts.
The reasons for these are complex and may include language barriers, prejudice, and cultural distinctions in how pain is expressed and perceived.
4. 1.9 billion people are affected by chronic headaches.
These statistics on pain are here to answer the question, “how common is chronic pain?” Recurrent tension-type headaches are the most common symptomatic chronic pain condition.
5. Women are more likely to experience both chronic and high-impact chronic pain than men.
(CDC) (The Conversation)
According to chronic pain statistics for 2020, women are 21.7% and 8.5% more likely to have chronic pain and HICP than men at 19.0% and 6.3%, respectively.
Female pain is fundamentally different from male pain which is mostly due to the functions of glial cells. Glia play a crucial role as the primary regulators of synaptic transmission and neural function in the brain.
According to reports on chronic pain in 2020, due to the wide range of receptors in their arsenal, glial cells can sense changes in neuronal activity and the microenvironment with ease.
6. Low back, and neck pain are the foremost causes of disability.
Chronic pain conditions remain in the top 10 of the prominent causes of disability in the US and modern world, the NIH chronic pain statistics reveal.
7. 70% of individuals affected by chronic pain syndrome are women.
(Harvard Health Publishing) (Migraine Research Foundation) (Pharmaceutical Technology)
In addition to this, 85% of chronic migraine sufferers are women. Furthermore, women are twice as likely to be affected by migraines and facial pain than men.
If there’s one thing we’ve learnt from these chronic pain statistics so far, it is the fact that pain generally is unfair to women.
8. Up to 50% of the UK population is affected by chronic pain.
One-third to one-half of the British people, corresponding to around 28 million adults, suffer from chronic pain.
The figures are similar for the other European countries, especially those with older inhabitants.
9. Low back pain ranks as the second most prevalent cause of disability among US adults.
(JAMA) (American Chiropractic Association)
Chronic back pain is a prevalent condition affecting millions of people worldwide. According to a chronic back pain statistic, 80% of the global population will experience back pain at some point in their lives.
Back pain is also regarded as the third most identified reason people visit the doctor’s office.
As if this isn’t enough, lower back pain statistics inform us that back pain is responsible for 264 million lost workdays in a single year.
Other forms of chronic pain affecting individuals are head pain, neck pain, facial pain, arthritis, etc.
10. The prevalence of acute pain varies between 40-83% among elderly individuals.
The acute pain statistics from 2018 showed that, depending on their age, 49–83% of people above 60 living in care homes and 40% of those living in a community suffer from acute pain.
The reasons could be pain management challenges, such as shortness of time, lack of staff, or lack of knowledge about these care settings.
11. Smokers account for 50% of patients suffering from chronic pain.
Who is affected by chronic pain?
Well, smokers make up a significant chunk of the total figure. This is even scarier when you consider that 18% of the general US population identify as smokers.
According to reports, smokers are nearly three times more likely to develop lower back pain than non-smokers.
Also, smoking aggravates abdominal pain, joint pain, and sensitivity to pain in general.
There is a direct link between smoking and joint pain from conditions such as arthritis. This is because tobacco use affects the nervous system, further increasing its pain sensitivity.
In a bid to make sense of the outrageous chronic pain stats, a plausible explanation has been provided as to why smokers are more likely to suffer low back pain – the impaired flow of oxygen-enriched blood to the spinal disks.
Symptoms of Chronic Pain: Statistics and Facts
Chronic pain affects both your physical and emotional health. Some prevalent symptoms of chronic pain are anxiety, depression, fatigue, poor sleep, etc.
Over the past decade, the prevalence of chronic pain has been rising globally, alongside the diversity of chronic pain symptoms.
People experience pain differently, depending on its cause. To make matters worse, the numerous signs and symptoms of pain can sometimes make it challenging for health professionals to diagnose chronic pain.
Here are some of the most sought-after symptoms-related chronic pain statistics for 2021.
12. Chronic pain develops after a series or combination of multiple events.
Many factors influence the onset, duration, intensity, and manifestations of chronic pain, including injuries, diseases, genetics, infections, etc.
13. The presence of acute or chronic pain is the most significant clinical risk factor for another chronic pain development.
When there are painful stimuli in the body, especially severe and at multiple locations, they alter brain chemistry and lead to increased risk for chronic pain development, according to statistics of chronic pain in America.
14. 1 in 4 people suffering from chronic pain have a sleep disorder.
Sleep disorder has been clinically proven to be associated with chronic pain. There have also been reports of relief from chronic pain after a good night’s sleep, indicating a two-way relationship between chronic pain and sleep.
15. Arthritis affects over 350 million people globally.
(Global RA Network) (Medical News Today)
Drawing from the most recent chronic pain statistics, the term arthritis, also known as joint inflammation, describes over 200 health conditions affecting the joints, such as lupus.
Depending on the type, arthritis can cause swelling, pain, stiffness, aching in and around the joint.
Some forms of arthritis (such as lupus) can also affect the body’s immune system and internal organs.
According to statistics from the CDC, 54.4 million US adults are affected by arthritis. To make matters worse, an estimated 23.7 million of this figure have had their day-to-day activities curtailed due to their underlying health condition.
16. Migraine headache is the third most common illness in the world.
(Migraine Research Foundation) (Migraine Trust)
Credible chronic pain facts for 2021 place the global prevalence of migraine at 1 in 7 people (14% of the global population), with chronic migraine affecting approximately 2% of the worldwide population. What’s more, migraine is regarded as the seventh most disabling disease worldwide and doubles as the leading neurological cause of disability.
17. 88% of patients with chronic pain suffer from an additional chronic condition.
Physical and mental comorbidity increased the risk of getting a chronic illness with pain symptoms later in life.
18. Severe chronic pain is associated with an increased mortality rate.
Patients who suffer from severe chronic pain are twice more likely to die from ischaemic heart disease or respiratory problems in the next ten years.
Facts on High-Impact Chronic Pain
Unlike acute pain that would usually last for a short period, chronic pain can last for months or even years.
Living with chronic pain is difficult, stressful, and can cause harm to the health of its victim. In the case of high-impact chronic pain (HICP), the situation is quite worse.
There is no doubt that living with chronic pain can be debilitating to one’s overall health. Nonetheless, it shouldn’t be considered a death sentence. Learning about some basic facts about chronic pain can help you understand your pain and improve your condition for the better.
The following paragraphs contain vital info on high-impact chronic pain that can come in handy when trying to understand the form of pain you are suffering from.
19. HICP affects nearly 8% of US adults.
High-impact chronic pain is a condition that limits life or work activities, including social, recreational, and self-care activities. It is similar to chronic pain, but it’s more prevalent in people with low education and income, as well as adults with public health insurance.
20. 4.8% of US adults have high-impact chronic pain.
(NCCIH) (Medical Xpress)
That equates to about 10.6 million people.
A further 7.4% have chronic pain that limits their life activities. In contrast, 13.6% (29.9 million) of US adults have chronic pain that doesn’t interfere with their major daily activities.
The prevalence of chronic and high-impact chronic pain increases with age and is highest among US adults aged 65 and over.
21. People with HICP experience a higher level of activity limitations than patient groups with other chronic health conditions.
People with chronic conditions such as cancer, diabetes, stroke, kidney failure, or heart disease experience fewer restrictions in their day-to-day activities than chronic pain patients.
Reports have it that a whopping 83% of HICP patients can’t work to earn a living, with about one-third of them finding it extremely difficult to perform basic tasks like getting dressed and cleaning themselves.
To make matters worse, high-impact chronic pain patients tend to experience worse health and higher healthcare costs than other people suffering from other chronic health conditions.
22. Almost 11 million Americans complain of HICP.
(Journal of Pain)
What is high-impact chronic pain?
This is a kind of pain that lasts longer than three months and is accompanied by at least one significant activity restriction (working, studying, managing household, etc.).
Moreover, this severe pain is associated with mental health problems and cognitive impairments.
23. Low back, and neck pain are on the increase globally.
Approximately 29% of the adult Americans reported experiencing lower back pain compared with 28.1% in 2017.
Furthermore, one-third of patients over 65 are affected by chronic low back pain.
Chronic Pain and Depression Statistics
Pain, especially the chronic variant, is a complex experience that affects your emotional and physical state. Chronic pain can also lead to isolation, immobility, and drug dependence.
There is a higher tendency for someone suffering from chronic pain to develop depression than it is for someone without any form of pain.
In fact, chronic pain and suicide statistics show that people suffering from chronic pain are three times more likely to experience psychiatric symptoms, such as anxiety disorders.
However, that’s not all. We have even more exciting statistics on depression associated with chronic pain in store for you. Let’s have a look at them.
24. Chronic pain and depression often go together.
It was estimated that 20–50% of patients with chronic pain have depression. The more severe the pain, the more likely it is for patients to have concomitant depression. Furthermore, the combination of the two conditions runs in some families.
25. Chronic pain increases the risk of suicide.
Chronic pain has long been considered a significant risk factor for suicidal behavior. All factors responsible for the increased risk for suicide are not fully understood; however, chronic pain and suicide statistics established that the risk is related mainly to concomitant depression and medications for pain relief abuse. However, a suicide risk profile should be estimated for each person who suffers from chronic pain.
26. Adequate pain control may include the resolution of anxiety and depression.
To ensure effective analgesia, the bidirectional relationship between chronic pain and psychiatric disorders requires medication for mental health conditions as well, according to chronic pain statistics from 2019.
27. Comorbidity of psychiatric conditions leads to outcomes worse than chronic pain.
The relative need for consultation increases when patients complain of depression, anxiety, tension, “nerves,” etc., and it happens in 38–52.2% of the general population. Moreover, negative beliefs about pain are also associated with poor clinical outcomes.
How Much Does Chronic Pain Cost?
Chronic pain is a serious health condition with far-reaching consequences on every aspect of daily life.
It impairs people’s ability to work, socialize, sleep, and function properly. What’s more, the cost that most individuals and nations have to bear due to chronic pain goes through the roof.
Read on and find out more about the cost-related chronic pain statistics in 2021.
28. Chronic pain in the US costs the economy $560 billion annually.
The estimated expenses are due to direct medical costs ($261 billion to $300 billion), lost productivity, and disability.
29. The cost of pain was more than that of managing and treating heart disease and cancer.
The need for cost reduction through better treatment is apparent—the number of missed days of work results in losses of up to $12.7 billion.
Lost work hours amount to $96.5 billion losses, and lower wages cost the economy $226.3 billion.
30. The annual cost for patients with chronic low back pain is around $8,500.
Chronic pain statistics worldwide, released in 2018, show that the yearly expenses accompanied by the management of chronic discogenic low back pain burden both healthcare and society almost equally.
31. Chronic joint pain costs around £1,118 per patient in the UK annually.
Given that knee pain statistics regard knee pain as one of the significant causes of pain and disability, it is not surprising that these patients’ annual health and social expenses are high.
Chronic Pain Statistics on the Therapeutic Approaches
Chronic pain remains one of the leading causes of disability worldwide. Despite this, there are numerous ways to beat it, some of which include the use of acupuncture, electrical stimulation, cognitive behavioral therapy, surgery, and self-care.
Stick with us as we take you through some of the most beneficial therapeutic approaches to chronic pain at bay.
32. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is an essential part of chronic pain treatment.
According to top chronic pain stats, this form of talk therapy helps patients identify their own experiences, behaviors, and negative thoughts about their chronic pain, change their awareness of pain, and implement better coping skills with the conditions.
33. Treatment of chronic pain usually includes medications.
The most effective therapy against swelling and inflammation accompanying chronic pain is NSAIDs. Other frequently prescribed drugs are acetaminophen, COX-2 inhibitors, antidepressants, and anti-epileptic medicines.
However, opioids are seldom prescribed due to being infamous for causing the most prescription drug-related overdose deaths in the US, as CDC chronic pain statistics reported.
34. Curcumin is researched extensively for chronic pain management.
Although the effects of curcumin on chronic pain, derived from the plant Curcuma longa, are not fully elucidated, it is used as an efficient remedy for pathological pain.
35. Glucosamine and chondroitin were considered as non-effective treatments for different pain conditions, according to chronic pain statistics.
(Harvard Health Publishing)
Different types and doses of these remedies were tried, unfortunately, with no benefits for the patients. However, studies are still ongoing.
36. Collagen products may improve chronic pain symptoms.
Collagen can ease osteoarthritis-related knee pain and was shown to be effective in lower back pain management, prevent bone loss, help build muscle mass, etc., as acute and chronic pain statistics in 2018 stated.
37. Common herbal remedies can be used for natural chronic pain relief.
Derived from hot chili peppers, capsaicin, for example, reduces the levels of pain-related substance P, whereas the phytochemicals in ginger help to cease the inflammation accompanying chronic pain.
Feverfew and turmeric are also used for easing chronic pain, especially in the joints. However, their effectiveness has to be further confirmed. The same applies to the devil’s claw used in managing arthritis and lower back pain.
Who suffers from chronic pain?
Patients with health issues like low back pain, arthritis, osteoarthritis, headache, fibromyalgia, neuropathy, multiple sclerosis, and shingles are more likely to experience chronic pain. It is essential to remember that treating primary disorders would have a significant impact on pain management.
How many people suffer from chronic pain in the world?
Approximately 1.5 billion people suffer from chronic pain globally. Depending on the type of chronic pain, due to inflammation, neural damage, ischemic, and compression-based damage, a different proportion of people is affected. With the aging population, the prevalence of chronic pain is expected to rise further.
What is the most common chronic pain?
The most common types of chronic pain are associated with arthritis, nerve damage, and cancer. Furthermore, these conditions tend to progress; thus, chronic pain accompanies them to the end. Chronic headaches are also among the leading causes of chronic pain, estimated to affect almost half of the world’s adult population in the last year and nearly 90% in their lifetime.
Which population has the highest prevalence of chronic pain?
The highest prevalence of chronic pain was reported in populations with a low level of education and income, who often live in neighborhood-deprived areas. Regarding ethnicity, non-Hispanic whites reported the highest age-adjusted prevalence of chronic pain (21%). Interestingly, no differences in the rate of severe, long-lasting chronic pain between groups were observed. The impact of the population factors on chronic pain is not clear at the moment.
Chronic pain statistics reveal that this kind of pain is usually associated with an underlying serious health condition.
Because it is a long-term health problem, chronic pain often leads to complications associated with both physical symptoms and the presence of psychological features such as depression, anxiety, and sleep disorders.
Chronic pain complicates all aspects of life — work, family relationships, social involvement, coping with tasks, maintaining sports and hobbies, and more. Because of this, deteriorated relationships and financial instability are often detected.
Most studies show that the more severe the pain, the more dangerous these problems are. For these reasons, the more chronic pain statistics you know, the more prepared you will be to deal with the health issues.
- AJEM Journal
- American Chiropractic Association
- BMJ Open
- BU School of Public Health
- Cleveland Clinic
- Everyday Health
- Global RA Network
- Harvard Health Publishing
- Harvard Health Publishing
- Journal of pain
- Mayo Clinic
- Medical News Today
- Medical Xpress
- Migraine Research Foundation
- Migraine Trust
- Miller & Wagner
- Penn Medicine
- Pharmaceutical Technology
- Physician’s Weekly
- Sleep Foundation
- The Conversation