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Study Finds Increase In Chronic Pain Prevalence Among US Adults

Study Finds Increase In Chronic Pain Prevalence Among US Adults

New research has revealed that adults affected by chronic pain have increased significantly across all US demographics.

Study Finds Increase In Chronic Pain Prevalence Among US Adults

Study Finds Increase In Chronic Pain Prevalence Among US Adults

From a weaker socio-economic section of the society have seen the most increase.

Research Study

The researchers had two goals:

  • To understand the changing rates of chronic pain in US adults
  • To check the prevalence of chronic pain in various demographics
  • To understand factors related to the prevalence of chronic pain

National Health Interview Survey, conducted from 2002 to 2018, provided data that researchers studied. In total, more than 440,000 people participated in this research. It covered various health aspects of individuals, including incidents of chronic pain.

People were questioned on five common pain sites: lower back, neck, face and jaw, joints and head.

Study Results

Dr Hanna Grol-Prokopczyk is an associate professor of sociology at the University at Buffalo College of Arts and Sciences who has co-authored this research study. According to Dr Hanna Grol-Prokopczyk, the ground data shows the exact opposite trend instead of getting healthier with advancements in the medical field.

Chronic pain in at least one of five pain sites has increased by 10% during the study period. In all, it represents around 10.5 million people. Joint pain and back pain remain the most prevalent pain site from 2002 through 2018.

The disparity has been observed between those whose household income is four times the poverty level vis-à-vis those whose income is two times the poverty level. The increase is 14% vis-à-vis 42%.

Researchers have also found some factors that could be affecting the prevalence of chronic pain:

  • Adults aged 65 to 84 years: Physical health issue like high body mass index, diabetes, kidney issues, hypertension
  • Younger and middle-aged adults: Mental health issues such as distress and alcohol

Interestingly, the study demonstrates how pain can be a function of mental health issue as much as physical. 

Why is Study on Chronic Pain Important?

Chronic pain has a negative effect on an individual’s well-being. It may even have an impact on the ‘economic balance sheet of populations.’

CDC asserts that chronic pain is one of the leading causes of seeking medical care. However, this issue remains largely ignored. Little research has been conducted on the prevalence of chronic pain in the population.

Without research, policymakers will not be able to gauge the severity of the issue and may not be able to respond with appropriate measures.

Dr Anna Zajacova of the department of sociology at the University of Western Ontario in London, Canada, a corresponding author in this study, believes that research on chronic pain could impact the US healthcare system. She says that the focus in the case of chronic pain should be on prevention and management, including self-management and interdisciplinary conservative treatment approaches. In contrast, the current US healthcare system focuses on procedures and medication.

Conclusion

Dr Hanna Grol-Prokopczyk believes that chronic pain is a leading cause of disability. There is also evidence suggesting that pain may have an impact on life expectancy. 

Dr Anna Zajacova of the department of sociology at the University of Western Ontario in London, Canada, who is a corresponding author in this study, asserts that medical personnel must recognize the underlying causes for chronic pain when prescribing any treatment methods.

Physicians may need to consider psychological factors such as stress from work, family, finance and the overall society when diagnosing and treating chronic pain.

Chronic pain needs to be looked upon as a public health issue with appropriate policies and funds dedicated to it. It is a topic requiring much more research and public discussion.

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