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28 Chronic Pain Statistics & Facts to Keep You Safe in 2020

Unlike acute pain, which only affects people for short bursts of time, chronic pain affects people for a period generally longer than 12 weeks. Chronic pain statistics show that people can experience pain on a consistent basis for months and even years. Pain can drastically reduce people’s quality of life and restrict their daily activities and even their ability to earn a living. 

People who suffer from chronic ailments resulting in pain can become depressed, they may lose income due to their inability to work, and they may have to rely on assistance while going about their daily lives. These are just some of the reasons you’ll find the statistics and facts included here to be very different from the recent acute pain statistics from 2018 and later.  

Treating chronic pain isn’t simple, either. Some people respond to medications while others find that only specific exercises or physical therapy can help. And because it affects such a large demographic of people, more and more research needs to be invested into understanding chronic pain and the various treatments available. 

So, for the painful truth about chronic pain, here are 30 statistics on the issue. 

The Top 10 Most Achingly Unpleasant Chronic Pain Statistics

  • 20% of the global population suffers from chronic pain.
  • China has the highest rate of chronic pain sufferers, totaling 39% of the country’s population.
  • The US has the third-highest rate of chronic pain sufferers, at 30% of the population. 
  • Chronic pain is the top cause of adult disability in the US. 
  • 18% of Americans over the age of 60 are being treated with pain medication.
  • The CDC has chronic pain statistics noting that 25% of patients receiving prescription opioid treatment over a long period of time struggle with drug dependency.
  • Annually, the US spends $560 billion on medical costs, loss of productivity, and disability programs as a result of chronic pain. 
  • Every year, 36 million Americans miss work because of chronic pain. 
  • 30% of chronic pain sufferers believe they will eventually be pain free. 
  • 20% of Americans say that they struggle to sleep due to pain. 

Chronic Pain Statistics Worldwide


1. More than 1.5 billion people experience chronic pain worldwide.

(The Good Body)

How many people worldwide suffer from chronic pain? While we don’t have 100% accurate data because people living in certain circumstances can’t report their pain or receive treatment, we do have statistics we can rely on. According to this data, approximately 20% of the world population suffers from chronic pain.

2. More than 39% of people in China suffer from chronic pain. 

(Pathways)

How common is chronic pain in China? China has the highest number of people in the world experiencing chronic pain, at 501 million. The majority of these cases are chronic back pain and headaches. While China has the most people suffering from chronic pain, Iceland, at 47.5%, and Columbia, at 46%, have the highest country-wide rates of chronic pain.

3. The top 3 countries with chronic pain are China, India, and the United States.

(Pathways)

According to the chronic pain statistics from 2018, the following are the top 10 countries with the most people suffering from chronic pain:

  • China (501 million)
  • India (174 million)
  • United States (100–116 million)
  • Brazil (77 million)
  • Mexico (28.5 million)
  • United Kingdom (28 million)
  • South Africa (23.7 million)
  • Colombia (23 million)
  • France (20 million)
  • Germany (12–20.5 million) 

4. Women are twice as likely to suffer when it comes to certain types of chronic pain.

(The Good Body)

Chronic pain statistics worldwide from 2018 show that women suffer from the most common types of chronic pain far more than their male counterparts. In fact, they are two times more likely than men to experience facial pain and severe headaches or migraines.  

5. People over the age of 45 are more likely to suffer from chronic lower back pain.

(CDC)

The older you are, the more likely you are to suffer from lower back pain. The CDC did a chronic pain survey that found that people aged 18–44 experience chronic lower back pain far less frequently than those aged 45 and over.

6. Lower back pain, severe headaches and migraines, neck pain, and facial pain are the most common forms of chronic pain. 

(CDC)

According to a 2006 survey, 27% of people experiencing chronic pain suffer from lower back pain, 15% suffer from headaches and migraines, 15% suffer from neck pain, and 4% suffer from facial pain.  

Statistics of Chronic Pain in America


7. 100 million Americans suffer from chronic pain.

(The Good Body)

Statistically, this means that 30% of Americans experience chronic pain. Furthermore, one out of 10 Americans has experienced chronic pain that lasted for a period of three months or longer. Cancer, diabetes, and heart disease altogether affect fewer Americans than chronic pain.

8. 36 million Americans are unable to attend work as a result of chronic pain.

(The Good Body)

The chronic pain statistics show that around 36 million Americans missed work within a year’s period due to this problem. This amounts to an estimated value of $299–$325 billion in lost productivity in the US alone. This includes time off and the lower earning potential caused by chronic pain. Severe headaches and migraines are cited as the most common types of chronic pain that cause lowered productivity at work. 

9. 75% of Americans with chronic pain say it’s affected their daily lives.

(Research America)

Statistics of chronic pain in America show that three-quarters of those who suffer from chronic pain end up having to change the way they live their daily lives. 33% of those with chronic pain have had to make major adjustments. These include taking disability leave from their jobs, seeking help when performing everyday tasks (for example, eating, moving, or washing themselves), or moving into a residence where it was easier to manage with chronic pain. 

10. The number one cause of disability among American adults is chronic pain.

(WebMD)

A study done by the American Chronic Pain Association confirms that chronic panic affects one out of every six people. 

Chronic Pain and Depression Statistics


11. 65% of people who suffer from depression claim to be in pain.

(WebMD) 

The link between pain and depression is strong, and the numbers show that many people who suffer from this kind of pain end up in a depressive state. In fact, up to half of the people who met with a doctor about pain also suffered from depression.  

12. Chronic pain was a factor in 9% of deaths resulting from suicide.  

(Journal Watch)

There’s a clear link between chronic pain and suicide, statistics show. Researchers went through the death registries in 18 US states from 2003 to 2014 and found that out of 123,000 deaths by suicide, 9% of those people had suffered from chronic pain. 

13. Out of 95 suicide notes left by sufferers of chronic pain, 64 mentioned chronic pain as a motivating factor. 

(Methods Man)

Researchers analyzed a series of suicide notes left by people who reportedly suffered from chronic pain. A strong majority of them specifically mentioned that pain had influenced their decision to end their lives.

The Effects of Living with Pain: Statistics and Facts


14. One in five Americans has problems sleeping due to pain.

(National Sleep Foundation)

20% of Americans report that their sleep is interrupted by pain during the night on a frequent or semi-frequent basis. Almost two-thirds of chronic pain sufferers say they have trouble sleeping due to the pain.

15. Approximately 40% of people with chronic pain say their pain affects their quality of life.

(National Fibromyalgia & Chronic Pain Association)

Chronic pain stats show that 4 out of 10 people, when interviewed, claimed their quality of life had been negatively affected by this issue. This includes struggling to perform at work, low moods, and the inability to sleep.  

16. More than $560 billion is spent on medical costs, loss of productivity, and disability programs due to chronic pain in the US every year.

(NIH)

The differences between acute and chronic pain statistics from 2018 show that chronic pain can result in mobility issues, mental health issues, and drug addiction or dependency. Conversely, acute pain doesn’t limit a person’s quality of life in this way and therefore costs a lot less in the long run. Due to the above-mentioned issues, chronic pain costs the United States an estimated $560 billion every year, according to research by the NIH and the chronic pain statistics they determined.

17. In a study following 151 chronic pain sufferers, 60 demonstrated drug dependency.

(Medicine)

43 men and 108 women suffering from various chronic pain symptoms were included in a study showing that 40% of them were dependent on drugs. The most common types of chronic pain in these patients were lower back pain (96 cases), knee pain (77 cases), shoulder pain (22 cases), and hip pain (8 cases). It isn’t surprising that lower back pain proved to be more prominent in this study as lower back pain statistics show that this is the most common type of chronic pain.  

18. 60% of mature adults have had pain lasting more than a year.

(NIH)

The majority of older adults who suffer from pain have experienced it for longer than one year. This research corresponds with statistics saying that those older than 45 are more likely to suffer from chronic pain. 

19. 20% of chronic pain sufferers have to take disability leave from work.

(The Good Body)

According to chronic pain statistics from 2017, one in five Americans suffering from chronic pain reported that they took a leave of absence from their job because of pain. Furthermore, 17% have claimed that they needed to change their jobs because of their chronic pain.

20. In 51% of cases, chronic pain sufferers say that their bosses are somewhat helpful or supportive.

(Research!America)

Only about half of chronic pain sufferers feel their bosses support them when it comes to their pain. Meanwhile, 16% say that their boss either doesn’t care or ignores the problem, and 10% say their boss gets actively annoyed when the subject of their chronic pain comes up. Inhospitable workplaces could lead to more insight into the link between chronic pain and poverty

21. 75% say that their spouses or partners are helpful and supportive.

(Research!America)

Support from family can be a big help to those living with chronic pain on a daily basis. The “Americans Talk About Pain” survey showed that three-quarters of chronic pain sufferers claimed that their romantic partners were supportive and understanding. In addition, 67% claimed that their children were helpful and understanding in the case of their chronic pain. 

Chronic Pain Stats on Diagnosis and Treatment


22. A mere 40% of chronic pain sufferers saw a specialist to help manage their pain.

(Research!America) 

And only 15% of them specifically went to see a pain specialist for help. The majority of them (more than 60%) went to their family doctor, and around 25% visited a chiropractor for help. Not enough people are going to professionals who deal with pain, the pain statistics show, meaning they may not receive the help they need. 

23. Only 23% of chronic pain sufferers report that opioids have helped them manage their pain. 

(The Good Body)

While opioids are frequently prescribed by pain management specialists and doctors, they aren’t as effective as many believe them to be. As a result, very few chronic pain sufferers say that opioids helped them with their pain. 

24. Only 30% of chronic pain sufferers believe they’ll be pain-free through treatment or a cure.

(The Good Body)

Chronic pain statistics show that 66% of chronic pain sufferers believe that they will be living with at least some pain for the rest of their lives. On the other hand, less than a third of those living with chronic pain think that treatment or a cure will work to completely remove the pain.

25. 40% of chronic pain sufferers claim that seeing a chiropractor or massage therapist has helped them deal with their pain.

(The Good Body, ABC News)

Chronic pain statistics from 2017 show that two out of five people suffering from chronic pain found seeing a chiropractor or massage therapist helpful. This statistic is 17% higher than those who found opioids to be effective.  

26. 18% of Americans over the age of 60 take medication for chronic pain.

(National Fibromyalgia & Chronic Pain Association)

Studies show that one out of five Americans over the age of 60 takes medication for consistent pain or high-impact chronic pain that has lasted longer than six months. 

27. 66% of older American adults still struggle with daily tasks despite medication for chronic pain.

(NfmCPA)

When interviewed, two-thirds of older adult Americans said they still have problems with daily tasks or hobbies and find their lives to be limited because of chronic pain, even though they’re taking medication to treat the pain. In fact, 44% claimed to have mobility issues. 

28. 25% of patients receiving prescription opioid treatment over a long period of time struggle with drug dependency. 

(CDC)

The chronic pain statistics from 2017 by the CDC show that one out of every four patients being treated with opioids may become dependent. In fact, over a period of 18 years (1999–2017), more than a total of 218,000 people died from an opioid overdose. This shows that drug dependency can be a possible outcome for those who suffer from chronic pain and medicate with opioid painkillers. 


FAQ

Who suffers from chronic pain? 

Statistics show that the country with the most reports of chronic pain sufferers is China, with 501 million people. The United States has the third-largest population of chronic pain sufferers, with 100–116 million people. It’s also important to note that women in general are more likely to suffer from the four most common types of chronic pain. 

How many people suffer from chronic pain in the world?

It is reported that 1.5 billion people around the world suffer from chronic pain. That’s around 20% of the population of the world. The top 10 countries with the highest numbers of chronic pain sufferers are China (501 million), India (174 million), the United States (100–116 million), Brazil (77 million), Mexico (28.5 million), the United Kingdom (28 million), South Africa (23.7 million), Colombia (23 million), France (20 million), and Germany (12–20.5 million).  

How many Americans are affected by chronic pain?

Between 100 and 116 million Americans suffer from chronic pain. That means that around 30% of the population has experienced pain that has lasted consistently for more than 12 weeks. Cases of chronic pain are more common in those older than 45 years of age, but that doesn’t mean younger people aren’t still affected. 

What is the most common chronic pain?

Statistics show that lower back pain is the most common type of chronic pain. 27% of chronic pain sufferers experience lower back pain. The next most common type of chronic pain is severe headaches and migraines (15%). Following these are neck pain (15%) and facial pain (4%).

What is high-impact chronic pain?

This type of chronic pain limits your ability to perform daily tasks, or it impacts your life in a substantial way, usually lasting longer than six months. Anything that lasts longer than a period of 12 weeks is considered chronic pain, while pain that lasts for a shorter is categorized as acute pain.   

How much does chronic pain cost?

Annually, chronic pain costs the United States alone as much as $635 billion. This includes both direct costs, such as those associated with receiving medical care, and indirect costs, such as those including lowered productivity in the workforce due to chronic pain.  


Conclusion

Chronic pain can severely limit the lives of the people it affects. It affects 1.5 billion people in the world (around 20% of the global population) and around 100 million Americans. It can cause people to have to take time off work, take disability leave, or even lose their jobs. Chronic pain also makes daily tasks all the more difficult, and people with severe cases of chronic pain often require help while going about their daily lives. 

These shocking chronic pain statistics show us that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution for chronic pain. Some are able to treat it with medication, but even then, a large number of these people still struggle with certain tasks because of the pain. Others find relief through getting help from a chiropractor or massage therapist. 

At the end of the day, those dealing with chronic pain can suffer greatly and need all the help they can get. If you or a loved one is experiencing chronic pain, it’s a good idea to seek professional help from a pain specialist. 

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