Chronic Pain Statistics: How Many People Suffer from Chronic Pain?

31 Chronic Pain Statistics: US & Global Prevalence

If you suffer with chronic pain, you are not alone; it affects the lives of millions around the world.

Before we go any further we need to fully understand what the term ‘chronic pain’ means.

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Strokes, explain that chronic pain persists because pain signals keep firing in the nervous system for long periods of time.

So you’re probably wondering what acute pain is?

Acute pain comes on suddenly and ends when the cause of the pain disappears. For example, if you pick up something hot and burn your hand.

Chronic pain lasts longer than three months or past the time of normal healing.

Read on for our summary of the widespread issue, including 31 chronic pain statistics:

Chronic Pain Statistics (Top Picks)

  • The prevalence of chronic pain in the US is estimated to range between 11% and 40% of adults.
  • Low back pain is the most common chronic pain condition.
  • Women and those over the age of 65 are the most likely to suffer from chronic pain.
  • Chronic pain costs the US up to $635 billion annually.
  • More than 8 in 10 patients with chronic pain are affected by severe depression.
  • 1 in 4 people with chronic pain have been diagnosed with a sleep disorder.
  • At least 10% of the world’s population is affected by chronic pain.

2022 Chronic Pain Statistics

How many people suffer from chronic pain?

Estimates show that between 11% and 40% of US adults are living with chronic pain.

The 2016 National Pain Strategy called for more precise calculations to understand the prevalence of the problem.

They found that 1 in 5 US adults experienced chronic pain in 2016.

Based on a sample size of over 17,000 respondents, 8% described having ‘high-impact’ chronic pain.

This type of pain was defined as limiting life or work activities on most days or every day during the past six months.

Today chronic pain affects more Americans than diabetes, heart disease and cancer combined.

Chronic pain is also one of the most common reasons adults seek medical care.

Between 11% and 40% of US adults are living with chronic pain

What is the most common chronic pain condition?

Low back pain is the most common chronic pain condition.

According to data from the CDC, the four most common types of chronic pain are:

  • Low back pain (27%)
  • Severe headaches or migraine pain (15%)
  • Neck pain (15%)
  • Facial pain (4%)

Who is most likely to get chronic pain?

Women over the age of 65 are the most likely to suffer from chronic pain.

The latest data shows that 22% of women report experiencing chronic pain, compared to 19% of men.

It also reveals that the older you get, the more likely you are to live with chronic pain.

Up to 30% of adults over 65 report suffering from chronic pain.

The table below shows the percentage of adults with chronic pain by age group

Percent of adults with chronic pain
Age GroupChronic pain High-impact chronic pain
18-24 years7.01.5
25-44 years 13.24.4
45-64 years 27.812.0

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 15% of Americans over the age of 65 use a prescription pain relief drug.

Older adults are also more likely to have additional health problems that can cause or complicate chronic pain.

The percentage of older Americans suffering from chronic pain conditions has also been shared by the CDC, with arthritis at the top of the list:

  •  Arthritis – 48%
  • Back or neck pain – 45%
  • Chronic joint pain – 41%
  • Nerve pain – 10%
  • Migraine or headache — 6%

There are a number of other factors that also influence the likelihood of you experiencing chronic pain. These include being unemployed, living in a rural area and living in poverty.

How many children experience chronic pain?

Between 20% and 35% of children and adolescents experience chronic pain globally.

The most common conditions they experience are musculoskeletal pain, headaches, and abdominal pain.

Consequently, their families might experience emotional distress. Interestingly research suggests that how parents respond to their child’s condition may have a significant impact on the course of their pain.

2022 Chronic Pain Key Statistics:

  • Up to 40% of US adults are living with chronic pain.
  • 20% of US adults experienced chronic pain in 2016.
  • Chronic pain is one of the most common reasons for adults to seek medical care.
  • The most common chronic pain condition is low back pain.
  • Women and those over the age of 65 are the most likely to suffer from chronic pain.

Sources: CDC | CDCNational Library of Medicine | CDC | National Library of Medicine | CDC | CanoHealth | National Library of Medicine | National Library of Medicine

Chronic Pain Cost Statistics

What's the cost of chronic pain in the US?

Chronic pain costs the US up to $635 billion every year.

Health economists calculated this figure by analyzing the increasing costs of health care due to pain and the indirect costs due to lower productivity.

This is more than the annual cost of cancer, heart disease and diabetes.

Lost productivity, due to chronic pain, costs the US between $299-$344 billion.

Adults suffering from chronic pain miss more days from work, impacting on the amount of money they’re able to earn annually.

Chronic pain costs the US up to $635 billion every year
  • The cost of chronic pain in the US is $635 billion annually.
  • Lost productivity, due to chronic pain, costs $299-$344 billon each year.

Sources: ScienceDaily

Worldwide Chronic Pain Statistics

How many people have chronic pain in the world?

At least 10% of the world’s population is affected by chronic pain.

That’s approximately 770 million people around the globe looking for relief from pain!

In the poorest countries in the world, up to 25% of the population are suffering from chronic pain.

Lower and middle income countries suffer from much higher rates of chronic pain than richer

At least 10% of the world’s population is affected by chronic pain
  • 770 million people globally are affected by chronic pain.
  • In the poorest countries it’s estimated that 1 in 4 people suffer from chronic pain.

Sources: ASA Publications | P&S Intelligence

Effects of Chronic Pain Statistics

How does chronic pain affect your mental health?

Up to 85% of patients with chronic pain are affected by severe depression.

Clinical studies have revealed that suffering from chronic pain often leads to depression.

The World Health Organization (WHO) report that more than 280 million people are currently suffering from depression.

Between 2003 and 2014, the percentage of people committing suicide due to chronic pain rose from 7.4% to 10.2%.

Findings have shown that pain conditions elevate the risk of suicide.

Over an 11 year time frame, the National Violent Death Reporting System identified that 8.8% (10,789) of suicides had evidence of chronic pain.

16.2% of those with chronic pain who committed suicide, died by an opioid overdose.

The most common conditions amongst the deceased were:

  • Back pain (22.6%)
  • Injury (13.2%)
  • Cancer (12.5%)
  • Arthritis (7.9%)
  • Migraine (5.2%)
  • Fibromyalgia (5.1%)
  • Diabetes (4.9%)

How does chronic pain affect sleep?

Nearly one in four people with chronic pain have been diagnosed with a sleep disorder.

Sleep disorders are on the rise across the world, and are even more of an issue for people living with chronic pain.

In fact, chronic pain sufferers experience an average 42 minute sleep debt.

The Sleep in America Poll conducted by the National Sleep Foundation found that pain is a significant challenge when it comes to getting a good night’s sleep.

Which is worrying, as in the US we’re not great sleepers anyway!

65% of pain-free people reported ‘good’ or ‘very good’ sleep quality, compared to only 37% of people with chronic pain.

Chronic pain sufferers experience an average 42 minute sleep debt

Does chronic pain affect life expectancy?

Due to the increased risk of suicide, depression and opioid use, plus a lack of sleep, chronic pain is associated with a negative impact on life expectancy.

Effects of Chronic Pain Key Statistics:

  • More than 8 in 10 patients with chronic pain are affected by severe depression.
  • Between 2003 and 2014, the number of people committing suicide due to chronic pain rose from 7.4% to 10.2%.
  • Nearly 25% of people with chronic pain suffer from a sleep disorder.
  • Those with chronic pain experience an estimated 42 minute sleep debt.
  • Only 37% of people with chronic pain report ‘good’ or ‘very good’ sleep quality.

Sources: National Library of Medicine | World Health Organization | Annals of Internal Medicine | National Library of Medicine | Sleep Foundation

Chronic Pain Management Statistics

What is the most common way to treat chronic pain?

Pain medication is the most commonly used treatment for chronic pain.

There are however many other pain management options available, with positive reported outcomes, including chiropractic care and physical therapy.

Yoga, using a massage gun and even practicing pain relieving affirmations can be more alternative (yet still effective!) ways to treat the symptoms of chronic pain conditions.

Pain medication is the most commonly used treatment for chronic pain

Pain medication is the most common way to treat chronic pain.

Sources: MedicineNet

Ready for some more shocking pain statistics? Take a look at our round-up of 39 Global Back Pain Statistics.

Laura Smith

Author

Laura Smith

Associate Editorial Manager

Specialist health & wellbeing writer, passionate about discovering new technologies & sharing the latest research.