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Back and Neck Pain : 19 percent have persistent pain

A new study published in The Journal of Pain reports that 39 million people in the United States or 19 percent have persistent pain, and the incidence varies according to age and gender. The Journal of Pain is the peer-reviewed publication of the American Pain Society, www.americanpainsociety.org.
Researchers at the Washington State University College of Nursing conducted the study. They defined persistent pain as frequent or constant pain lasting longer than three months. The intent of their research was:
• Identify groups at higher risk for persistent pain
• Identify body sites, chronic conditions and disabilities associated with persistent pain
• Assess the relationship between persistent pain and anxiety, depression and fatigue
• Describe the individual experience of persistent pain.
The study was performed using data from the 2010 Quality of Life Supplement of the National Heath Interview Survey (NHIS) to calculate the prevalence of persistent pain. Results of the analysis showed that approximately 19 percent of U.S. adults reported persistent pain in 2010, and older adults were more likely to experience persistent pain than younger adults. Women also had slightly higher risk than men.
The authors noted that persistent pain correlated with other indices of health-related quality of life, such as anxiety, depression and fatigue. Individuals with those conditions were far more likely to report persistent pain.
In 2011, the Institute of Medicine reported that 100 million Americans have chronic pain. The authors explained that the disparity between the estimated pain incidence in their study and what the IOM reported is attributable almost entirely to differences in operational definitions of persistent pain.
In the 2010 NHIS, an estimated 60 percent of adults reported lower back pain in the past three months, and all of them would have been described in the IOM report as having chronic pain. However, only 42 percent of the NHIS study respondents with back pain described their pain as frequent or daily and lasting more than three months.
From a public health perspective the difference is significant. Those with persistent pain have high rates of work disability, fatigue, anxiety and depression. They also are at higher risk for long-term exposure to and dependency on pain medications.
The authors concluded that measuring pain persistence has policy implications because persistent pain is an indicator of an unmet medical need for pain management in the general population, as well as a risk factor for anxiety and depression.
Journal Reference:
Jae Kennedy, John M. Roll, Taylor Schraudner, Sean Murphy, Sterling McPherson. Prevalence of Persistent Pain in the U.S. Adult Population: New Data From the 2010 National Health Interview Survey. The Journal of Pain, 2014; 15 (10): 979 DOI: 10.1016/j.jpain.2014.05.009