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Pain is prevalent among Americans

Written by Diane Archer

A recent study from the National Institutes of Health reveals that 40 million Americans suffer from severe pain and more than 25 million Americans (11.1 percent) experience pain on a daily basis. According to the Institute of Medicine, “Chronic pain alone affects the lives of approximately 100 million Americans.” More than half of the population (55.7 percent) report some pain.

As compared to people with less pain, people with severe pain tend to need more health care services and to be in worse health; they are also more likely to have greater disability and a poor quality of life.

Pain can be hard to treat because it has physical, cognitive and emotional dimensions. And, it often brings tremendous suffering with it. Many people with pain become depressed. People need to beware of overdosing on opioids, which can kill you. Even over-the-counter painkillers like Tylenol can be very harmful.

Interestingly, your race and ethnicity can affect the amount of pain you feel. Asians and Hispanics report experiencing less pain than other ethnic groups. In contrast, your age is less relevant. Comparing people in the same ethnic/racial/language groups, about the same proportion of people over 65 experience severe pain as people between 45 and 64.
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The Institute of Medicine has written a blueprint for relieving pain in America. The national cost of chronic pain in this country is around $600 billion annually in health care and lost productivity, the equivalent of $2,000 for each person living in the United States.

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