Skip to main content

Chronic Pain: Facts and Figures (USA)

As I sit down to write this post, the US population stands at almost 322 million persons. There is one birth approximately every 8 seconds, and one death approximately every 13 seconds. One new international migrant enters this country every 32 seconds. That means the US population increases by 1 person every 12 seconds.  

I started to many persons in our country actually suffer from some form of chronic pain?  There is not a clear cut answer; the biggest reason for that what is actually considered to be chronic pain. I know there are a lot of people out there, and I've rattled of a lot of statistics from various sources when writing for this blog... but what are the real numbers???

Back in 2011, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) published a report entitled "Relieving Pain in America." This landmark study suggested that there were over 100 million persons in this country who suffer from persistent or severe chronic pain.  This would mean that 1 of every 3 persons is affected. Doesn't that sound like an awful lot of people?  Dr. Andrew Kolodny, president of Physicians for Responsible Opioid Therapy says this is ridiculous.  He says that this the phrasing used for this study was used so that the pharmaceutical lobbyists could drum up advocacy for chronic opioid use.

The reason for this alarming number is simple.  The study used the phrase "anyone who reported severe or moderate pain, joint pain, arthritis or pain that interfered with their ability to to work or do household chores during the previous four weeks" to define a person with pain.  

Other studies have come out, and the numbers are very different.  Estimates from these studies show a chronic pain population of up to 70 million. That would translate to approximately 1 of every 4 Americans.  For example, the Journal of Pain study conducted by researchers in Washington State back in 2010, came up with an estimate of 39 million persons with chronic pain.  They used different wording to describe chronic pain: frequent or constant pain felt "every day or "most days" in the preceding three months.

The IOM still defends their numbers.  It seems excessive to me, but to borrow a phrase from former president Bill Clinton, " It depends on what your definition of "is" is..."

Sources:; National Pain Report; Pixabay


Popular posts from this blog

Living with Chronic pain hits the big screen!

Been to the movies lately?  Jennifer Aniston is on the big screen in a recent release titled "Cake."
Her character, Claire is a victim of chronic pain...she belongs to a support group, where all of the members are coming to terms with the suicide of one of their members.  Of course, she also takes pain medication and addiction is another of her problems...and of course there's more!

I guess I am writing this post just to bring readers' attention to the fact that Hollywood has become aware of the crisis that is chronic pain.  This movie is a testament to that. People that don't have to live with this kind of pain don't fully understand the whole story.  Maybe this movie will shed some light on the issues.

Here is the official trailer for the movie:

Sources: prweb;;YouTube

Herpes As A Helper?

If you've ever had shingles, or known anyone that has experienced it, you probably know that chronic pain can persist following the initial attack (post herpetic neuralgia).  This is because the herpes virus seems to have an affinity for nerve cells.  And while it's not fun to have shingles or post herpetic neuralgia, the herpes virus may be a key in future development of delivery systems for pain management treatments.

Here's the deal--since Herpes simplex has an affinity for nerve cells, researchers are looking a genetically modified, safer version of the virus to deliver genetic material to damaged nerves.  In simple terms, once the genetic material reaches these nerve cells, it will hopefully encode these nerves to ultimately inhibit pain signals.  Animal studies and clinical trials in cancer patients have been encouraging thus far.

This is one of those developments that makes me believe that there is hope for those in chronic pain. Along with so many other exciting d…

The Knee Bone's Connected To The Leg Bone....

Two recent studies have brought a not-so-novel concept into the limelight-the concept being that people who present with knee pain often develop pain in other parts of their bodies.  These studies, known as the Multicenter Osteoarthritis Study (MOST) and the Osteoarthritis Initiative (OAI), were assessed by a Clinical Epidemiology Team as Boston University School of Medicine in an effort to find preventive strategies to combat this trend.

The authors suggest that knee pain may cause individuals to alter their gait in an effort to compensate for their discomfort. In doing so, the alignment of other body joints is altered, and this may be the cause of secondary joint pain, especially hips and ankles. The authors go on to say that the pain in these secondary sites is not necessarily osteoarthritis--perhaps bursitis or some other injury.

Osteoarthritis is a result of wear and tear in the joints.  We may not be able to completely eliminate osteoarthritis from occurring, but some common se…