Fact Sheet on Chronic Pain – Prescription Drug Abuse Epidemic in the U.S.

The following Chronic Pain Statistics are taken from the American Academy of Pain Medicine, and can be cited here:


Chronic Pain Statistics

• Pain affects more Americans than diabetes, heart disease and cancer combined.

• In 2011, at least 100 million adult Americans have common chronic pain conditions, a conservative estimate because it does not include acute pain or children.

• 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.

• Pain is a significant public health problem that costs society at least $560-$635 billion annually (an amount equal to about $2,000.00 for everyone living in the U.S.).

• Pain is associated with a wide range of injury and disease, and is sometimes the disease itself. Some conditions may have pain and associated symptoms arising from a discrete cause, such as postoperative pain or pain associated with a malignancy, or may be conditions in which pain constitutes the primary problem, such as neuropathic pains or headaches.

• The total annual incremental cost of health care due to pain ranges from $560 billion to $635 billion (in 2010 dollars) in the United States, which combines the medical costs of pain care and the economic costs related to disability days and lost wages and productivity.

• 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.

Chronic Pain Statistics
15,000+ People Die a year because they Accidentally or Knowingly Misused Opioids. Opioid Safety PSA: http://www.theacpa.org/Opioid-Safety-Public-Service-Announcement


Pain is the TOP Cause of Disability in U.S.

The following Statistics pertain to the Prescription Pain Pill epidemic:

• More Americans now die from drug overdoses than in car accidents, according to a new government report released last December. http://health.usnews.com/health-news/managing-your-healthcare/articles/2011/12/20/drug-overdoses-kill-more-americans-than-car-accidents-cdc

• Abuse of the drugs has been tied to overdose deaths, burglary of pharmacies and increased crime nationally.

• Prescription drugs are the second-most abused category of drugs in the United States, following marijuana. http://www.painmed.org/patientcenter/facts_on_pain.aspx

Chronic Pain Statistics









Chronic Pain News And Research

There is always exciting research happening in the study of pain. Researchers are hard at work finding the most innovative ways to prevent, manage, and treat chronic pain conditions. Here are some of our favorite recent chronic pain news stories.

We noted in our “What We Talk About When We Talk About Pain” post that:

  • Researchers “have found a mechanism in the brain of laboratory mice that actually remembers pain and contributes to it becoming chronic. When laboratory mice experienced long-term (chronic) pain, the neurons in a brain region called Gyrus Cinguli changed so that traces of that pain memory became “etched” in those neurons. Once changed, the researchers found that this brain memory of pain (a “memory trace”) is irreversible… The researchers then tried to figure out a way to boost the activity of that ion channel. They found that the neuromodulator serotonin (the “feel good” hormone in the brain) reduced pain in the lab mice.”
  • “Researchers at Technische Universitaet Muenchen (TUM) found that as pain moves from an acute event to a chronic one, the way the brain processes it becomes more emotional.”
  • Read more about the ways we process pain in the brain at https://paindoctor.com/what-we-talk-about-when-we-talk-about-pain/