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Prevalence of Chronic Pain 20.5 Percent in United States

Most common pain locations were back and hip, knee, or foot; physical therapy and massage most often used for management

woman holding her back in pain

TUESDAY, April 20, 2021 (HealthDay News) -- About 20 percent of U.S. adults experience chronic pain, according to a study published online April 2 in PAIN.

Robert J. Yong, M.D., M.B.A., from Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, and colleagues used data from the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) to examine the prevalence of chronic pain and its impact among adults in the United States.

The researchers found that 50.2 million adults (20.5 percent) reported pain on most days or every day based on a chronic pain module introduced into the 2019 edition of the NHIS. Back pain and hip, knee, or foot pain were the most common pain locations. Physical therapy and massage were the most commonly utilized management strategies. Limitations in daily functioning, including social activities and activities of daily living, were reported by respondents with chronic pain. Compared with those without chronic pain, respondents with chronic pain reported significantly more workdays missed (10.3 versus 2.8).

"Given the overall scale and impact of pain on Americans, we see that a multimodal, multidisciplinary approach to treating pain is even more important than what we have been emphasizing over the past few decades," Yong said in a statement. "We need all of the tools in our armamentarium to treat patients suffering from chronic pain."

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