30 Chronic Pain Statistics for 2021 That Are Painful to Read

Chronic Pain Statistics

A literal pain in the neck – chronic pain. Don’t these two words make you frown just a little bit, reminding you of that annoying, dull ache? Our chronic pain statistics will help you understand the condition better, as well as provide some proven aids.

You’ll find out what proportion of the population deals with chronic pain in the US and the global level, as well as some gender differences. In addition, we’ve taken some time to do research on specific types of pain. 

For starters, here are the top ten facts and stats on the condition.

Top 10 Chronic Pain Stats and Facts

  • Between 20% and 30% of the world population suffers from chronic pain.
  • Almost half of the UK population suffers from some form of chronic pain.
  • By 2027, the worldwide pain management drugs market will reach $91,649 million, with North America taking the lead.
  • 11–20 million adult Americans suffer from high impact chronic pain.
  • The “perfect cure“ for chronic pain doesn't exist.
  • 28% of preventable diseases in LMICs are related to chronic pain.
  • The painkiller market in the US will have reached $5.9 billion by 2023.
  • Women are more likely to endure chronic pain than men.
  • Chronic pain is the No 1. reason why Americans apply for medical marijuana.
  • Morphine, hydrocodone, codeine, and oxycodone are among the most commonly prescribed painkillers.

Let’s get to know this type of pain a bit better and read about some prospective pain solving suggestions as well.

Chronic Pain Statistics Worldwide 2020-2021

We compiled some of the most recent stats and facts about chronic pain worldwide you should know about.

1. Chronic pain is now officially recognized as a disease. 

(IASP)

The latest studies by the WHO have explained the difference between chronic primary and chronic secondary pain. The first one is defined as a disease of its own, while the latter refers to the pain caused by a particular illness or condition. What is the most common type of chronic pain? The majority suffers from low back pain, neck pain, and headache/migraine.

2. Chronic (secondary) pain has six subtypes.

(PAIN)

They are chronic cancer-related pain, chronic postsurgical or post-traumatic pain, chronic neuropathic pain, chronic secondary headache or orofacial pain, chronic secondary visceral pain, and chronic secondary musculoskeletal pain.

3. Between 20% and 30% of the world population suffers from chronic pain. 

(NIH)  (AMHS Journal)

NIH chronic pain statistics say a lot. Between 20% and 30% of the world is estimated to be struggling with pain that lasts over 12 weeks—the minimum amount of time needed for it to last to be categorized as chronic. In some countries, the figures are even higher. 

4. The mutation of SCN9A is responsible for the fact why some people can’t feel any pain.

(Independent) (Health24)

Hereditary sensory and autonomic neuropathy (HSAN) type IV, or the lack of pain and temperature sensation, creates a lot of complications. For example, such babies often hurt themselves by chewing on their hands, tongue, or cheeks.

5. There are 7.63 million Canadians that live with chronic pain. 

(Cision Canada) (Government of Canada)

Chronic pain statistics in Canada show us that 1 in 4 Canadians suffer from some form of chronic pain. That was the reason the government created the Canadian Pain Task Force to help and address this particular problem. 

The main goal of the Canadian Pain Task Force is to take extensive personal information about or from people that live with chronic pain in Canada in order to help create a strategy that will prevent chronic pain.

6. On average, 43% of the UK population suffers from some form of chronic pain. 

(BMJ Open)

Chronic pain statistics in the UK, from 2019 to 2020 show us that about 28 million adult Brits live with chronic pain. The percentage ranges between 35.0% and 51.3%, depending on the age group. Therefore, chronic pain affects between one third and half of the whole UK population. With the British getting older, the figures are expected to increase.

7. COVID-19 didn’t spare the field of chronic pain, but it popularized telemedicine, adding to chronic pain facts for 2021. 

(NCBI) (NCBI)

The pandemic practically popularized the use of telemedicine even though it was used long before COVID-19. One of the most famous examples of its use comes from the Nebraska Psychiatric Institute,  where in 1959 they used a TV set to communicate with Norfolk State Hospital.

Telemedicine will be used more extensively in the future, though the fact remains that a lot of chronic pain issues were kept on hold due to the pandemic.

8. 28% of preventable diseases in LMICs are related to chronic pain.

(Science Direct)

Pain statistics deduce some diseases could be resolved by timely surgery if only the chronic pain accompanying them was taken more seriously in lower-to-middle income countries. This is especially true for cancer, as the patients usually report to the doctor only when the cancer pain becomes extreme.

9. The “perfect cure“ for chronic pain doesn’t exist.

(Health Grades)

Since all patients have different variations of chronic pain, you can expect that the treatment will not be the same for all. The treatment can include opioids, non-opioids, physical therapy, acupuncture, etc. Other than that, turning to a healthy lifestyle (diet, exercise, sleep) can also help with pain reduction.

Statistics of Chronic Pain in America 

Now, let’s see what the numbers tell us about chronic pain among Americans.

10. By 2027, the worldwide pain management drugs market will reach $91,649 million, with North America taking the lead.

(Research and Markets)

For comparison’s sake, the figure for 2019 stands at  $71,431 million.

It is believed that North America will stay dominant on the pain management drugs market, followed by Canada, Mexico, and Europe. Some of the key players on the market will be Abbott Laboratories, Pfizer, Inc, and Johnson & Johnson.

11. How many Americans are affected by chronic pain? 20.4% of the adult population are affected.

(CDC)

Out of this number, 7.4% complain the pain has a debilitating effect on their work of life activities.

Also, the more rural the place of living, the more powerful the pain.

Gender-wise, compared to men, women are likely prone to experience chronic pain during their life.

12. The more educated you are, the less pain you will feel.

(NCCIH)

At least that is what the latest survey shows. How common is chronic pain in people with a bachelor’s degree or higher? Well, they are less likely to feel such pain. 

Chronic pain and poverty are related. Economic state is a determining factor since poorer people tend to suffer more, based on surveys and stats.

13. People with chronic pain are at higher risk of committing suicide.

(Population Health Sciences

Chronic pain and suicide statistics show that people that use opioids as pain remedies are more likely to overdose or commit suicide. On top of that, the suicide rates are high with younger US veterans (18-34) that suffer from chronic pain. 

As a matter of fact, about 18 veterans take their own life on a daily basis. That does not necessarily imply pain is to blame, but it does play a big role. Interestingly, a lot of brands from the CBD industry offer big discounts for veterans and active members.

14. Chronic pain can cause severe depression.  

(Mayo Clinic)

Chronic pain and depression statistics report depression can cause pain and vice versa. In fact, it’s not rare for people who suffer from depression to feel physical pain in the form of migraine, neck pain, or back pain. On the same note, chronic pain can cause a severe depression followed by stress and insomnia.

As depression is oftentimes challenging to determine (the estimation success rates are rather disappointing, according to depression statistics), pain should be taken as a serious indicator.

Specific Chronic Pain Statistics

The most common chronic pain types include headaches, post-trauma pain, lower back pain, and psychogenic pain. Alongside them, there are specific chronic pains, like the dreaded knee pain, and shoulder pain. So, what do the numbers tell us?  

15. 11–20 million adult Americans suffer from high impact chronic pain.

(OHSU) (Pain Research Forum)

This chronic pain type is defined as pain that lasts at least three months and imposes major restrictions on one’s life. For example, people suffering from this type of chronic pain are sometimes unable to leave home or do household chores. Generally, they deal with stronger pain and more mental and cognitive issues.

16. 1 in 7 Americans suffers from osteoarthritis.

(Arthritis Foundation) (NIH)

Basically, that’s 32.7 million people that have a serious chronic disease. Men are more prone to it before they turn 45, while the situation is the opposite for women. 

17. Knee pain ranks second among the most common causes of chronic pain, knee pain statistics report.

(Classic Rehabilitation) (BreakThrough)

At some point in their lives, one-third of the population experiences knee pain in some form. Women take the lead with the overall prevalence of 20%, while for men, the percentage is only a tad lower—18%.

18. 25% of Americans live with LBP (lower back pain).

(CDC)

Lower back pain statistics tell us 14% of the patients received opioids as their treatment. Nowadays, CBD oil is very much recommended for pain too. 

Chronic back pain usually develops from acute low back pain after one year of ache. Most types of back pain are caused by some kind of a physical obstacle, for example, a herniated disc. 

LBP pain is the most common pain Americans are complaining about.

19. Work-related chronic back pain statistic: 54% of Americans complaining about back pain do sedentary jobs.

(TheGoodBody)

What’s more, 7% of all reported cases of back pain turn into chronic low back pain. A third of women complain about the pain, as opposed to one-quarter of men. Overall, low back pain statistics indicate the number of cases is on the rise.

20. Neck pain is experienced by 10% of the world population.

(Medscape) (CMD)

13.09% of office workers participate in neck pain statistics, given that they tend to remain in one and the same position at work. Other professions, like carpenters, and machine operators, can also be more prone to neck pain because their jobs require repetitive use of the upper extremities.

21. Women are more likely to endure chronic pain than men.

(Healthy Women)

Females have higher chances of experiencing almost all types of chronic pain. Why? First of all, biologically, women are more likely to feel pain linked to the musculoskeletal system that often includes pelvic pain or knee pain. 

Secondly, women process pain in a different way than men. On the one hand, opioids will provide them greater pain relief. On the other hand, they will feel more aggressive side effects. 

22. Shoulder pain statistics indicate this pain takes third place on the list of the most frequent chronic pain conditions.

(Black Roll)

One-quarter of the population deals with shoulder pain, and chances are that most people in their 50s and 60s will have this condition.  

How to Minimize Chronic Pain Statistics & Rates

Here are some statistics about the painkiller market, in addition to medical marijuana and its use in chronic pain therapy.  

23. Chronic pain is the No 1. reason why Americans apply for medical marijuana.

(AJMC)

62.2% of the patients applying for medical marijuana cards ask for them due to chronic pain. The next in line are multiple sclerosis, chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, posttraumatic stress disorder, and cancer. 

Cannabis is very much preferred to most meds because CBD gummies release the substance gradually over time, providing pain relief that lasts for hours. 

24. The painkiller market in the US will have reached $5.9 billion by 2023.

(R&D)

With the aging population contributing to chronic pain statistics and their recent inclination to use marijuana, maybe the figure will diminish.

The figure would be much larger if the market stats included homeopathic remedies, prescription medicine, and anesthetics. 

25. Over 50% of those who use cannabis due to chronic pain drive while they are high.

(AAU)

Medical cannabis and CBD oil are legalized in a lot of states but not all people are using it responsibly. Cannabis can seriously impair driving abilities. Yet, most drivers have admitted to driving under the influence some two hours after consuming it. 

21% of them said they were driving while feeling “very high.” As a matter of fact, marijuana is the second most common illegal substance that is detected in alcohol-related car crashes.

26. Chronic pain statistics indicate that morphine, hydrocodone, codeine, and oxycodone are some of the most commonly prescribed painkillers.

(BAART Programs)

Given that most prescription drugs are high-priced, some people turn to the alternatives in the form of non-prescription opioids of which heroin and fentanyl are the most commonly misused drugs.   

27. $50 billion are spent on treating back pain every year.

(TheGoodBody)

And that is America only. Acute pain statistics say 10% of the world population is in (lower back) pain as well. 1 in 3 people complains about back pain during their daily activities. Around 80% of Americans are estimated to have problems with back pain at some point.

28. All National Football League Teams use chiropractic services.

(TheGoodBody)

Each year, chiropractors treat over 27 million Americans for different ailments. Moreover, if each American visited a chiropractor prior to going to the doctor’s for neck or back pain, that would save Medicare $83.5 million.

29. CBD topicals for pain such as Elixicure are yet to be FDA-approved.

(Pharmacy Times)

CBD creams for pain help with localized pain of different kinds, though scientific studies are scarce. While there was a lot of excitement about Elixicure getting FDA certified last year, that does not mean it was FDA approved.

30. Chronic pain statistics 2021 and new surveys show that VR technology can help reduce chronic pain.

(MobiHealthNews) (Practical Pain Management)

AppliedVR company developed a special device for treating fibromyalgia and chronic lower back pain. The VR headset is even able to deliver cognitive behavioral therapy.

In another example, a VR game was used in Children’s Hospital in Los Angeles to help patients manage pain. The researchers designed a special VR game for patients aged 10-21. The results confirmed that virtual reality gadgets can significantly help in distracting the patients during painful procedures.

Conclusion

How many people in the world have chronic pain? 20%-30% of the global population.   

Not only is chronic pain a nuisance, but it can be an indicator of a serious disease. Hopefully, the latest proclamation by the World Health Organization will inspire thoughtful action by the governments and healthcare institutions. 

Fortunately, the 21st century has allowed us the opportunity to use medical cannabis for the purpose completely legally in some states, while CBD oil is legal on the federal level (though not possible to be prescribed everywhere). With VR in the game too, we hope for some consequences of chronic pain to be avoided.

FAQs

Which population has the highest prevalence of chronic pain?

The highest percentage of chronic pain patients was found in the group of non-Hispanic white adults. What’s more, almost 23.6% of people from the aforementioned group are affected by some type of chronic pain. 

The second place belongs to non-Hispanic black adults that make 19.3%, followed by Hispanic (13.0%). The last group on the list belongs to the non-Hispanic Asian adults that make 6.8% of people that suffer from chronic pain.

Who suffers from chronic pain the most?

Chronic pain is most common with people over 65 that often suffer from many types of the mentioned condition. It can also be linked to reduced mobility, anxiety, and depression. Another vulnerable group are women as are more likely to suffer from chronic pain than men. 

How long can you live with chronic pain?

Chronic pain is treatable and people can learn how to live with this condition. There are several ways that can help, in addition to the prescribed medications, which include meditations, massages, special exercises, or biofeedback. 

Biofeedback can help people learn how to control certain functions by listening to their body (pulse, breathing, muscle tension). This technique can be used for anxiety, depression, and pain. 

Chronic pain statistics also show us that people should avoid consuming alcohol and cigarettes because it can worsen the pain.  

List of Sources:

2 thoughts on “30 Chronic Pain Statistics for 2021 That Are Painful to Read

  1. I would like to get miracle Marijuana prescribe to me but I live in Texas and we have no dispensaries in the doctors down here really don’t like to prescribe it but I have a lot of symptoms that that’s in the list to get marijuana is there any doctors or anything that you know of that I can talk to.

    1. Hello there! We recommend searching online for medical marijuana doctors in your region/city. It should be fairly easy to find one, though we do agree Texas is one of the states where it is extremely hard to get hold of medical cannabis. Fingers crossed!

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